January 11, 2016

Elon Musk says Apple has hired a thousand engineers to make an electric car

Tesla's owner, Elon Musk, has said it is an "open secret" that Apple is making a rival electric car.

He also predicted vehicles that could not drive themselves would become a "strange anachronism" before too long.

The tech entrepreneur's comments were made during an exclusive interview with the BBC at his design studio near Los Angeles.

Tesla vies with Nissan and BMW to be the world's bestselling electric-car brand, but currently runs at a loss.

An added challenge is that over recent months several of its engineers have been hired by rivals, including China-backed Faraday Future and Apple.

Mr Musk said it was "obvious" that the company would try to make a compelling car of its own.

"It's pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it," he said.

But he did not see the iPhone-maker as a threat.

"It will expand the industry," he said.

"Tesla will still aspire to make the most compelling electric vehicles, and that would be our goal, while at the same helping other companies to make electric cars as well."

Push to summon

Mr Musk outlined a vision of a future where all cars would be electric and autonomous, and driving yourself would become a hobby rather than a necessity.

In recent months, its Autopilot feature has given the car a number autonomous driving features:

  • keeping in lane
  • adjusting its speed as other cars cut in
  • changing lane without the driver needing to intervene
  • Last weekend, it gained a new "beta" feature that allows owners to summon their car with their smartphone.

"[With] the current version of Summon, the car will come and find you if you're on private property," Mr Musk said.

"The car will exit the garage, close the garage behind it and come over to you.

"This is the first baby step - ultimately you'll be able to summon the car from New York if you're living in LA, and it will drive across the country, charge itself at the various locations and come to you."

This may sound like a vision of the distant future, but Mr Musk says it could be feasible in "a couple of years."


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