Rumors that Apple is working on a major car project got a huge boost following a report that claims the iPhone maker has talked to owners of a massive car-testing site about using the facility.
According to documents obtained by the Guardian through a public records act request, Apple engineer Frank Fearon wrote to officials at GoMentum Station, a former military facility with 20 miles of drivable roads, earlier this year to find out about scheduling time at the test track.
“We would … like to get an understanding of timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it],” Fearon wrote to GoMentum Station officials, according to the Guardian.
GoMentum Station is a sprawling 5,000-acre former Navy weapons station near Concord, Calif. The company’s website says it is the largest secure test facility in the world. Honda has already used the facility to test autonomous vehicles.
Reports are just that
But contacting a test-driving facility doesn’t necessarily mean Apple is working on a car — autonomous, electric, or otherwise. The documents cited in the story don’t actually mention a vehicle.
Sure, Apple could be testing a self-driving and/or electric car. Or it could be testing some kind of technology that works in self-driving cars from other vendors. It could also be interested in researching some other form of connected car functionality. All of those could be tested at GoMentum Station.
However, the Guardian article isn’t an isolated report. It’s just the latest in a long line of reports and rumors surrounding a potential Apple car.
In February, the Financial Times reported that Apple was snatching up experts from the automotive industry to work in a secret lab in Silicon Valley.
That same month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was gearing up to take on Tesla in the electric-car market. That report indicated that Apple had dubbed its effort Project Titan.
It’s known that Apple’s Jony Ive is a big automotive fan who has commented on the car market at length in the past. And the late Steve Jobs specifically mentioned that he wanted Apple to get into the car space.
So what does all of the leave us with?
For now, not much — just some documents and a bunch of rumors from unnamed sources. But that’s how a lot of Apple stories get started. Remember, before the Apple Watch was a reality, all we had to go on were some leaked photos of parts and the word of unnamed sources. And then, boom, there was a watch.
Which is to say that, while you should take all rumors with a grain of salt, this one seems to be gaining some traction.