Apple registered several auto-related domains last month, adding further fuel to longstanding rumors about the company's plans for an electric, potentially self-driving car. As noted by MacRumors, Apple registered apple.car, apple.cars, and apple.auto via registrar MarkMonitor Inc. in mid-December 2015.
While possibly related to Apple's existing CarPlay initiative, which saw several announcements from automakers and aftermarket electronics companies this week at CES, the registrations could also merely be part of Apple's standard practice of acquiring domains and trademarks to prevent third party companies from attempting to capitalize on Apple's brand.
Evidence of Apple's interest in entering the auto market continues to mount, however, making it unlikely that the domain acquisitions are solely related to the company's IP protection efforts.
Apple in recent months has hired many engineers away from the auto industry, including several from electric car pioneer Tesla, which prompted a public rebuttal from Tesla founder Elon Musk. The company has also had meetings related to autonomous vehicle regulations with the California DMV and sought Bay Area testing facilities for vehicle prototypes.