Regardless of recent reports stating that Apple is taking a new direction for Project Titan, it has been reported that Magna International/Magna Steyr is working on the Apple Car. Earlier in the year, there was talk about Apple considering Magna as a partner. Now, at least 12 engineers from the company are in house at Apple’s secretive Sunnyvale, California locations, involved with Project Titan. Maybe the layoffs of a dozen or more Apple employees was a changing of the guard to bring in replacements in the form of Magna engineers. Bloomberg reported:
“A completely new vehicle can cost several billion dollars, so leaning on the expertise of an industry veteran is a way of minimizing those costs. Apple has been quick to understand that: about a dozen Magna engineers have been working with the iPhone-maker’s team in Sunnyvale to develop a vehicle, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.”
Recent reports have cited that Magna is in the process of building or acquiring a new factory. Also, the company is set with BMW to build the 5-Series. We know that Apple CEO Tim Cook has toured BMW as part of the Project Titan process. Magna ceased production of the Mini Coutryman, possibly to open the door for BMW and Apple Car projects.
Although many people outside of the auto industry have not heard of Magna, the company is one of the world’s largest contract vehicle manufacturers and automotive suppliers. While the company has generally stayed under the radar for years, the company’s CEO, Donald Walker, has shared publicly that he wants tech companies as Magna’s customers. He explained:
“You could easily have enough business outsourced from the existing carmakers to fill up other contract assembly plants, or you could have new entrants that come in and say ‘I really want to have something but do I really want to manufacture vehicles?”
Magna has the capacity to assure that an actual electric Apple Car comes to be, but also, the company could be working on a new focus for ramping up a self-driving vehicle platform. Being that The New York Time’s report was unclear about the direction of the shift, Apple could be planning to work toward the autonomous tech first in order to compete with emerging competitors, or the company could be setting the self-driving goals aside to work on getting an electric car to the market more rapidly. Either way, Magna is in the mix.
While Walker didn’t officially validate the Apple Car partnership, he did include:
“We don’t want to build something until we’ve got orders for it.”
Guenther Apfalter, Magna’s head of contract assembly added:
“Our business model is to be a one-stop shop—development, design, supply chain all the way through to production.”
A company like Magna has a myriad of options at its disposal. There is no reason for the company to be compelled to take something on unless it is going to come to fruition. Walker’s and Apfalter’s language supports the fact that Magna wouldn’t have a team in Sunnyvale with Apple, unless a deal was made and a car is imminent. Magna doesn’t “tinker” or “help”. The company takes on these jobs and sees them through to production.