Apple CEO Tim Cook remains evasive on car project

One of the biggest automotive stories of the past year concerns a car that may not even exist. It’s Apple’s “Project Titan,” the mysterious automotive project that has analysts and tech fans buzzing about a production electric car from the company that brought you the iPhone.

If Apple is proceeding with Project Titan, CEO Tim Cook isn’t letting on. He dodged questions about the Apple car in a recent Forbes interview. When asked about the car project, Cook would only say that Apple is always interested in exploring new technologies and types of products. Forbes’ Adam Lashinsky wasn’t having it, and asked if Apple would really spend large amounts of money on car development if it didn’t plan on commercializing what it made.

“We don’t have to spend large amounts of money to explore,” Cook noted, saying Apple could still learn the ins and outs of a technology (like, presumably, electric cars) without getting too committed financially. He said that “once we start spending gobs of money–like when we start spending on tooling and things like that–we’re committed.”

Cook went on to say that he could see a day when manufacturers make “an automobile on a contract basis for someone else.” Contract manufacturing is an important part of Apple’s strategy for its existing products, and is how many analysts believe it will break into the car business. Electric powertrains will likely make it easier for newcomers to start building their own cars, as more of the necessary components and knowledge can be acquired through suppliers.

There were rumors last year that Apple had been in talks with the BMW to use the i3 as the basis for its car, although neither company will confirm this. Rival Google is also widely rumored to be involved in a partnership with Ford to commercialize its autonomous-driving technology.