The automotive world has been rocked by news that tech giant Apple is almost definitely building an autonomous, electric car. Though still unconfirmed, AppleInsider has published a well-informed piece that, among other things, uncovered a likely Apple shell company at the heart of “Project Titan”, as well as the possible inspiration for its design, the Fiat 600 Multipla.
Those details came to light after extensive research that, among other things, discovered a company called SixtyEight, LLC., which claims to be an “innovative” market research firm…one that happens to rent a building in an office campus that is otherwise entirely leased by Apple. The tech company has never been shy about using shell companies to hide its projects, and the building SixtyEight has leased has recently undergone extensive renovations, including the addition of a fairly large garage bay and opaque office windows. AppleInsider approached the building, only to find a note saying that all deliveries should be taken to the campus’ flagship office building, which Apple 100% occupies. So much for the shroud of secrecy, eh?
But the connection between SixtyEight and Apple don’t end there, as the marketing company (which was founded just one year ago) recently paid to import a 1957 Fiat 600 Multipla to the U.S. While marketing companies import and buy cars all the time, this particular vehicle has a special connection to Apple. Apple’s chief of design Jony Ives regular speaks of his first car, a Fiat 500 he affectionately named Mabel, and back in 2013 he helped auction off a Fiat 600 Jolly, a doorless version of the Multipla.
Somebody paid nearly $500,000 at auction for the restored Fiat purchased by Ives, and with rumors suggesting the Apple car could take on a minivan-like look, the Fiat 600 could very well end up key to the final design. However, with “hundreds” of employees supposedly working on this project (called “SG5” internally), the classic Fiat could be less influential on the looks, and more influential on the practicality. The no-frills Fiat was an important vehicle in post-War Europe, and Apple could be seeking to reconnect car-buyers with simple, effective vehicles.
It’s still too early in the game to be making guesses over the aesthetics of Apple’s maybe-car, which isn’t due until around 2020. But if you’re a big Apple fan, the in-depthness of this piece will really grab you (as it did me), and it’s one of the better pieces of proper investigative journalism I’ve read relating to the auto industry.
And it’s not even by a car magazine. Go figure.