Could Cork be in the driving seat for the Apple car?

16 Dec 2015

Cork has car-making in its DNA. Henry Ford set up his first European car manufacturing facility in the city in 1917 which made cars until 1984

Car-making could be returning to Cork, well, at least some kind of automotive function, as Apple recently began recruiting people with auto industry expertise for its Cork plant.

As the rumour mill continues to flutter with every mention of a potential vehicle, from an electric car to a self-driving car or both, Apple continues to go from strength to strength as a maker of iPhones and Mac computers.

But recent reports from international tech publications increasingly point to Ireland as a potential location for Apple’s autonomous electric car project. Business Insider reported in May that Apple advertised a role for a Global Supplier Manager/Procurement Manager with previous experience in the automotive aeronautics industry. also referenced job ads by Apple recruiting managers with auto industry experience for Cork.

Recruitment website recently published a link to a role for a procurement manager with “automotive design” experience whose role was geared to “achieve most efficient costs for equipment while helping enable Apple’s unique design and testing requirements”. The role, which was advertised on Apple’s recruitment site, has since been removed.

None of this actually means Apple will be making cars in Cork, but it does suggest a focus on the car industry within Apple’s existing business.

Whatever happens, Cork is certainly in the driving seat for Apple’s future plans, whatever they may be.

Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced 1,000 new jobs for Apple in Cork, where the company already has 5,000 workers and the company has been operating since 1980.

Cork has room for Apple to vroom if it wants to make cars


Cork has a strong pedigree as a location to make cars. Ford set up its first European car manufacturing plant in Cork in 1917 and the factory churned out vehicles until 1984 when the plant closed with the loss of 800 jobs.

Apple is believed to be working on a project code-named ‘Project Titan’ headed by VP Steve Zadesky, a Ford veteran who helped build the first iPod, to build its first car. Zadesky has built a team of 200 people that could grow to 1,000 people.

The first Apple Car is expected to cost less than $40,000 and will go more than 200 miles (321km) on a single charge.

Apple is understood to be in the midst of a recruiting war with Tesla, offering engineers $250,000 signing-on bonuses and a 60pc salary hike. Key hires include former Tesla engineers David Nelson, Peter Augenbergs and John Ireland.

Apple is also understood to be scouting test locations for its new car project, including former US Navy facilities near San Francisco.

While recruiting people with auto design experience doesn’t necessarily mean Apple will be making cars or even designing them in Cork, it is nevertheless a tantalising prospect for a city that for much of the 20th century had as much car oil as silicon in its DNA.

Cork road image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years