Report: Apple might challenge Tesla with an electric minivan

Hundreds of Apple employees are working on an electric car that resembles a minivan, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. It’s possible the car will never make it to market, but the WSJ’s sources said the company has been meeting with manufacturers in Austria.

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the car project, known as “Titan,” the go-ahead a year ago, according to the report. The team, which may grow to 1,000 people and has Apple vice president and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky at its helm, is researching robotics, metals and materials. Apple has also hired Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America lead Johann Jungwirth and industrial designer Marc Newson since the department’s formation.

The report indicated it will be several years before the car is completed and certified, and the minivan design is only the current iteration. The car’s battery and other electronics could also find their way into other Apple products.

Unlike Google’s car, Apple’s vehicle would not be self driving, the WSJ’s sources said.

California makes big play for Tesla’s huge battery factory

Following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s suggestion last month that California could be back in the running as a contender for Tesla’s massive battery factory, the state has now started to vie pretty hard for the deal. On Thursday, the Oakland Tribune reported that new legislation (bill SB 1309) was introduced that would enable the state government to use a variety of incentives and regulatory changes as a carrot for the battery factory. The bill is co-authored by state Senator Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, and state Senate President Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and is backed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Tesla’s store guru exits the building

George Blankenship, Tesla’s head of sales strategy and the creative force behind its stores, has left the company, according to his LinkedIn page and a San Jose Mercury News report.