Apple in recent years has been poaching staff from the auto industry, including from firms such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU], Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] and battery supplier A123 Systems. This has all led to speculation the tech giant is developing its own car.

The latest out of the rumor mill is that Apple has established a secret lab in Berlin and hired top staff from Germany’s auto industry to help develop a car, whose code name has previously been reported to be Project Titan.

Frankfurter Allgemeine, citing an anonymous source, reports that around 15 to 20 staff with backgrounds in engineering, software, hardware and sales have already been recruited to work at the lab. One of their main tasks is said to be determining how Apple could go about manufacturing a car.

The German publication reports independent vehicle manufacturer Magna Steyr could be tapped. We’ve also heard that senior executives from Apple, including CEO Tim Cook, were invited by BMW to tour manufacturing facilities for the i3 electric car.

Late last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple may have its car ready in 2019. Crucially, any car from Apple is likely to hit the market before any offering from Google, as the rival tech giant is fully focused on autonomous cars which still face numerous technological and legislative hurdles. Apple, on the other hand, is expected to initially launch a drivable model, though it too is working on autonomous car technology.


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