Is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Building an iCar?

Apple Inc. (AAPL) has reportedly crafted a high-profile line-up of technical and automotive experts, implying that the smartphone maker is researching opportunities to enter the advanced spectrum of connected automobiles.

Reuters reports that, the latest hires as well as patent filings by Apple Inc. (AAPL) indicate that there is more to what Apple engineers are currently doing and not simply expanding CarPlay repertoire.

Recently, Apple Inc. (AAPL) hired new engineers, from lithium-ion battery makers, A123 Systems Inc. A specialized ‘nanophosaphate lithium iron phosphate batteries and energy storage systems,’ A123 Systems Inc is currently contesting their hire by Apple Inc, claiming unfair competition. A123 Systems claims that Apple Inc poached its employees to develop its ‘large scale battery division.’

Besides, Apple Inc. (AAPL) in mid-2013 filed nearly 8 patents for auto batteries. Apparently one of the latest hires, according to Reuters, holds 17 similar patents.

The strong market share that Telsa motors cars are currently acquiring is definitely indicative of the potential for the green variants of every day cars, in the US and globally as well. However, the fear of most electric car users is the ‘range’ that they will cover with their electric batteries. Therefore, the current hires by Apple Inc. (AAPL) are indications of the company’s intentions.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is apparently trying to play catch-up with clearly established players in the electric car industry, Tesla Motors and Google Inc, by hiring car-building experts and battery technology experts.

Conclusive Hires

Reuters and other experts believe that the early February hiring of A123 employees, who are known for their expertise in battery cell design, manufacturing and materials development, is conclusive of Apple Inc.’s automotive aspirations. Interestingly, A123 Systems had been supplying batteries to electric hybrid cars made by Fisker Automotives, a model which was eventually discontinued.

As auto technology blurs into ‘connected’ cars, it appears that former technology giants like Apple Inc. are likely to provide more than just software to Detroit’s car makers!