A steep rise in Apple's R&D spending points to a big new project underway

Apple is rumoured to be working on its own electric vehicle.

Although Apple never confirmed the reports, a steep rise in research & development spending points to some kind of big new project. Independent Apple analyst Neil Cybart thinks something in the auto industry is likely.

Based on Cybart’s data, charted for us by BI Intelligence, Apple is now spending nearly $US2 billion per quarter on R&D, a staggering amount considering its lean product lineup. Apple’s quarterly R&D expense went up $US500 million from the previous year, higher than the $US200-$US300 million quarterly increase Apple spent while developing the Watch. Apple’s R&D cost relative to total sales has also bounced back in recent years.

The increased ratio is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that Apple has seen record high sales lately while maintaining a relatively limited set of products to offer.

“Looking at the recent jump in R&D, I suspect we are seeing the early stages of Apple beginning to add talent and processes for future personal transportation initiatives,” Cybart wrote.

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