The hiring goes beyond engineers and R&D, as Apple has been picking up key executives as well including former Fiat Chrysler exec Doug Betts. Betts was Fiat’s quality chief, and had also worked at Michelin, Nissan, and Toyota.
Last year, Apple added former Mercedes-Benz’s North American R&D boss Johann Jungwirth to their team. What was Jungwirth’s speciality? Oh just vehicle-to-vehicle communications and autonomous driving. That should be a big tell as to what Apple is up to.
According to CNN Money, Apple’s efforts have been taking fruition in the form of a custom van that has been driving around Brooklyn and a suburb of San Fransisco. This van was covered in all manner of sensors, much like early Google autonomous car prototypes.
Finally, the article points out that Tesla and other automakers welcome Apple to the fray as a potential competitor. But that is ancillary to the details of Apple’s hires and the reports of their prototype out testing. It is pretty obvious that Apple is hard at work on an electric or hybrid vehicle (thought probably full EV) that will have partial or full autonomous functionality.
The final key element that is unclear is the business model for Apple’s car. There is a great deal of speculation that Apple might forego a traditional ownership or lease model for some form of micro-leasing or ride-sharing. Like the rest of the project, we’re likely a long way off from getting any real announcement detailing the inevitable Apple Car.
Image Credits: VRWorld, GreatNewsMag