Apple could be in the market for a massive amount of space to get into self-driving cars.
Apple (AAPL) is eyeing 800,000 square feet of space to use for its self-driving cars, Victor Coleman, CEO of Hudson Pacific Properties, a company that owns several properties across the San Francisco Bay Area, said during a call with analysts on Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal, which listened to the call. He added that Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) is also eyeing 400,000 square feet for the same effort.
Both Apple and Google declined to comment on the report.
The comments come as Apple and Google have taken different tacks in seeming efforts to build autonomous cars. Google has for years shown off its technology and is eyeing partnerships with traditional carmakers to build self-driving vehicles. Apple, meanwhile, has been coy about any plans for a self-driving car, but has dropped some hints—and made some key hires—that suggest it’s getting into the market.
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Last month, in fact, Apple reportedly hired top Tesla (TSLA) executive Chris Porritt. In his former position at Tesla, Porritt served as vice president of vehicle engineering. While Apple didn’t confirm the hire or what he might be doing at the company, it’s hard to believe that Porritt, whose entire career has been devoted to car technology, is doing anything but working on Apple’s long-rumored vehicle.
However, Apple regularly buys or leases property across the Bay Area, which in many cases have nothing to do with cars. The reason the idea of cars was even brought forth this time around was that Coleman specifically said that Apple is “looking to take down (the space) for their autonomous cars.”
Coleman revealing that Apple is working on cars in his company’s buildings is perhaps no surprise. Indeed, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called Apple’s moves into the car business an “open secret.” That said, Apple has been loath to speak publicly about any plans.
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Regardless, with the amount of evidence piling up, it’s appearing increasingly likely that Apple is at least considering getting into the car business. Exactly how it will do so, however, remains to be seen. The company, given its rash of hirings of Tesla engineers, among others, would likely move into the autonomous car market with a vehicle of its own, though it’s possible that it could have other plans.
Either way, Apple isn’t talking and won’t say what it has planned until it’s ready. And exactly when it’ll be ready is unknown. At this point, most analysts believe Apple won’t get a car on the road until 2020.
Like everything else with Apple, we’ll just have to wait and see.