One of the many speculative concepts out there (this one from CarWow)

If Apple is going to produce an electric vehicle like Tesla, then naturally Apple will want to provide customers with a way to recharge away from home without relying on infrastructure from third parties. Reuters now reports that Apple is showing interest in such charging stations as it’s talking to existing companies and hiring engineers with experience in building them.

Specifically, the report shares that Apple is simply exploring the technology behind charging stations that would be used to power its electric vehicle for customers:

Apple is now asking charging station companies about their underlying technology, one person with knowledge of the matter said. The talks, which have not been reported, do not concern charging for electric cars of Apple employees, a service the company already provides. They indicate that Apple is focused on a car, the person added.

If Apple’s rumored electric vehicle does materialize, it makes sense that Apple would want to put its force behind a charging solution outside of the home. Charging stations essentially replace gas stations in the EV equation and it’s still very early days for charging station availability.

Specifics beyond Apple’s interest in charging stations are unclear for now, however, as it’s possible Apple could produce its own system like Tesla’s Supercharger network, which is considered one of Tesla’s greatest assets, or help fund third-party charging stations without its own official presence. The current stages of exploration reported indicate that Apple is looking for data around charging stations, but companies are naturally reluctant to share as Apple could become a competitor.

As for Apple’s EV effort, codenamed Project Titan, the latest report claims Apple has recently been scouting an 800,000 square foot space for the rumored car team, which now includes around 600 employees. 9to5Mac profiled several key hires to the Apple Car project in early 2015.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has openly acknowledged rumors that Apple is looking to compete in the future as well, often calling news that Apple is working on an electric vehicle an “open secret” that will be “compelling” when it materializes. An ongoing poaching war between the two companies hasn’t helped hide the effort.

As for when to expect to see anything solid from the Apple Car project, reports initially pointed to 2020 as the year for Apple Car, although later reports suggest that the project has possibly been moving faster and could be announced officially a year sooner.

Earlier this year, however, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded to questions about the rumored project by saying it’ll be ‘Christmas Eve for a while’ for anyone waiting on major new areas for Apple. When asked specifically about the project in a separate appearance, Cook explained that Apple explores lots of areas but is only committed to new products when the company puts a lot of money behind it.

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