February 15, 2015 8:03 AM EST

iGiant Apple is reportedly working on a much bigger smart device: a car. After rumors of such a project began making the rounds online earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 13 that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has dedicated several hundred employees to creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle. The project is supposedly codenamed “Titan.”

If that is the case and the company proceeds—Apple is notorious for deeply investigating potential products but, ultimately, not bringing them to market—it will have something going for it beyond its massive cash hoard and broad-based brand loyalty. One of the company’s star designers, Marc Newson, has already had his hand at designing a concept car. Newson joined Apple last year.

Newson’s Ford 021C was a concept car first shown at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. Produced purely as a styling exercise and not intended for production, it was named after the Pantone orange color. Inside, the vehicle featured seats that swivelled on pedestals and extensive LED lighting (then a novelty). The London Design Museum put the vehicle bask on display a few years ago, dubbing it “a neat illustration of Marc Newson’s approach to design: don’t just tinker with existing typologies, but take a long lateral look at them and imagine how the perfect version would be.”

The Journal suggests Apple’s prototype is a minivan-like vehicle, but the 021C’s design philosophy could be a hint of ideas to come.

 

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