Apple’s next big thing might be an electric car

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Apple’s brand is everywhere: phones, computers, watches and soon, cars?

According to The Wall Street Journal's sources, several hundred Apple employees are working on an electric vehicle project called "Titan." The effort reportedly got the green light from CEO Tim Cook more than a year ago.

The news comes as Apple makes specific new hires that would support the Journal's story. A Financial Times report indicates Apple is snapping up new talent with experience in the automotive industry, including Johann Jungwirth, former president and CEO of the R&D department at Mercedes-Benz.

A current prototype is said to resemble a minivan — like the ones that captured blogger attention last week — though it's not clear what relation, if any, those camera-equipped cars have to Apple's own design plans.

The Wall Street Journal points out it could take years to finish a production vehicle, if that’s even Apple’s goal.

And, of course, it would be expensive. Just ask Tesla, which has sunk millions of dollars into its own electric vehicle plants.

But then, Apple’s the single richest publicly traded company on the planet by market cap, with an estimated $178 billion in pure cash as of last quarter’s earnings call. If anyone’s got the money to kickstart a vehicle business, it’s Apple.

And, as The Verge points out, "The company's explosive growth will eventually peter out unless it expands to new markets and there's no question that transportation would fall into that category."

Insiders say Apple’s auto team is currently researching materials for use in the manufacturing process. The group could grow to as many as 1,000 people as the project gains speed.

This video includes images from Getty Images.