Shares of tech giant Apple (AAPL 1.37%) got an unexpected bump in stock price Thursday after Bloomberg reported that the company is "pushing to accelerate development of its electric car" and "refocusing the project around full self-driving capabilities."
By 1:30 p.m. ET, Apple stock had already gained a solid 2.5%.
Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch is spearheading the Apple effort, reports Bloomberg, and "targeting a launch of its self-driving car in four years." Bloomberg notes that industry insiders who've been monitoring Apple's efforts in this field had anticipated it would take Apple more like five to seven years to put a self-driving car on the road. So today's report marks an acceleration in the project.
The news agency notes further that Apple is fully committed to building a car with "full self-driving capabilities" to the extent that its current design "would have no steering wheel and pedals."
The import of Bloomberg's report actually extends beyond Apple. As the news agency points out, "building an actual car ... will require partnerships." The company is "looking to hire engineers to test and develop safety functions" and has poached multiple key employees from companies such as Tesla, Volvo, Daimler, and GM. When it comes to production, "the company has discussed deals with multiple manufacturers and has considered potentially building the vehicle in the U.S."
One other group of companies that may benefit from Apple's initiative is the electric car-charging industry. As Bloomberg notes, Apple is taking a different approach to car-charging from the one it uses with its mobile devices (and their Lightning cables). Instead of adopting a proprietary charging solution, the company wants its cars to be "compatible with the combined charging system, or CCS. That would let Apple tap into an expansive global network of chargers" and presumably make buying an Apple car an even easier decision for consumers to make.