Back when it was announced that Apple had hired Australian industrial designer Marc Newson to join their notoriously tight-knit Industrial Design team, there was plenty of speculation about why Apple had made the decision. Amongst other theories was that Newson and Ive just simply wanted to work together in the same environment, however it is now becoming clear that perhaps Apple had more acute intentions for a specific project after all: to bring in Newson’s playful futuristic eye to help them develop their first automobile design.
According to a February 13th article in the Wall Street Journal, Apple reportedly has “hundreds” working on Apple’s first foray into the automobile market under the name “Project Titan”. According to those unnamed sources, the current iteration of the self-driving and sensor-laden electronic car resembles a mini-van although no other design details have been given. The news comes relatively soon after Apple’s recent unveiling of CarPlay, which aims to bring the iOS experience into existing automobiles.
Additionally, the report details that Apple has been aggressively pursuing product design and engineering experts from Tesla Motors and Mercedes-Benz, among others, under the direction of Steve Zadesky, a former Ford Engineer and current Vice President of Apple’s product design team. Apple CEO Tim Cook supposedly approved the project over a year ago.
The news helps tie together many loose ends surrounding the Newson/Ive Apple situation – particularly given the fact that while Ive is considered by many to be among the world’s top industrial designers, he has little-to-no experience in the transportation design space (or at least, publicly). Newson, on the other hand, has an extensive portfolio filled with various transportation design projects ranging from cars to airplane interiors and even jetpacks…not to mention he has single-handedly developed products designed for space travel. However, perhaps one of his most famous transportation design projects has been the Ford 021C, which was designed as a concept car and shown to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1999:
Although it appears that Apple has been moving forward aggressively with Project Titan, it could be years before anything is publicly announced. Even products that Apple have become experts in – phones, tablets and laptops – take years for them to setup supply chains and finalize any manufacturing details. Needless to say, a self-driving automobile would be the most intensive undertaking for the perfection-based company and they likely won’t release anything until every last detail is ironed out.
Despite Newson’s talent and eye in the realm of future-forward transportation design, who knows what Tesla or Google may have up their own sleeves by then?