Apple Electric Car Gaining Traction with New Exec Hire?
Chatter about an Apple (AAPL) electric car has been building for months but the vendor is showing some signs that it’s building a team of automotive experts, perhaps a hint the initiative Apple boss Tim Cook green-lighted a year ago could be gaining traction.
Apple reportedly has hired another former automobile executive to add to its nascent research team exploring development of its own electric automobile, according to the Wall Street Journal. Doug Betts, former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV global quality leader, earlier this month joined Apple in an unspecified operations capacity, the Journal reported.
Betts, whose automobile industry background also includes Nissan and Toyota, left his Chrysler job last October, the day after a Consumer Reports study showing the reliability of the Chrysler brand had declined. Betts had been Chrysler’s top quality boss since 2009 or soon after the car maker exited from bankruptcy.
The Journal reported that Betts declined to comment on his new role as did Apple. It also appears that his LinkedIn profile has been removed.
In addition to Betts, Apple previously hired Paul Furgale, formerly deputy director of the Autonomous Systems Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and a noted vehicle researcher, the Journal said. While Furgale didn’t confirm his Apple hiring, the Journal reported a member of his former lab in Switzerland said that he’d left to work for the iPhone maker.
Furgale is said to already be involved in recruiting students and researchers to work with him on the Apple car project.
Apple’s electric car project reportedly is code-named Project Titan and is headed by Steve Zadesky, a 16-year Apple veteran who joined the company in 1999 to work on the iPod and later the iPhone. Zadesky, whose background includes a three-year stint as a Ford engineer, has the go-ahead to hire a 1,000 person team to work on the electric car, including recruiting Apple employees from other parts of the company, BusinessInsider reported earlier this year.
While Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge working on an electric automobile, what’s evident is the revenue opportunity it and others see to transform the automobile industry with mobile technology.