Apple is sort of confirming its plans to produce an electric car by adding another auto industry expert to its team, says a report from the Wall Street Journal. Doug Betts, who has experience in auto manufacturing side, is the first major auto executive to join Apple, says the WSJ.
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Until last year, Betts was the chief of global quality at Fiat Chrysler. Previously, he has worked as a VP in Nissan Motor and Chrysler Group. In his updated LinkedIn profile, Betts narrates his job profile as “Operations-Apple Inc.” in San Francisco Bay Area. Betts joined Apple in July.
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With this title, it is not clear whether Betts will work on the car initiative or on an existing product line. However, there are speculations that Apple brought in its other hires, including former Tesla employees, to expand the car project team.
Apple, with a cash reserve of $200 billion, will join the likes of Google and other non-traditional auto-companies in trying to develop a smart car. All of these companies are looking for ways to develop self-driving cars that use sophisticated software.
Reportedly, the new electric-car project at Apple is code-named “Titan”, and the company is hiring new employees for the project5. With no official statement regarding the project yet, making judgments on the firm’s electric car plans is largely speculation.
As of now, there has been no comment from Apple or Betts on the matter.
Earlier hires by Apple
Previously, Apple hired Paul Furgale, the former deputy director of the Autonomous Systems Lab. He is credited with developing the self-parking vehicle technology in the European Commission V-Charge Project. Steve Zadesky, a former engineer at Ford, was appointed as the team leader by Apple CEO Tim Cook. Zadesky was entrusted to build a team of 1000 members, according the WSJ.
The U.S. firm has also hired many experts in robotics and machine vision. Although Apple has hired auto experts, Betts is the first major automotive executive with experience at the manufacturing side.
With firms like Apple hiring auto experts, a competition to gather the best talent and optimize the resources has started between Silicon Valley firms and traditional auto hubs such as Frankfurt and Detroit.
Previously, Uber Technologies poached 40 researchers from a Carnegie Mellon University Program. Earlier this year, Apple also settled a lawsuit with Battery maker A123 Systems, who sued the iPhone maker for poaching its employees.