Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk told German publication Handelsblatt that the engineers Apple poached from his company to work on its own electric car program code-named “Project Titan” were not important to the company. Musk said the engineers fired from Tesla have joined Apple.
Tesla CEO considers Apple a no threat
“We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding,” Musk told the publication.
On being asked if he is taking Apple’s automotive ambitions seriously, Musk questioned the interviewer about if he ever looked at the Apple Watch. The Tesla chief emphasized that there was a significant difference between producing consumer electronics and an automobile. “It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smart-watches. You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car.”
However, Tesla’s CEO did accept that if Apple wants to offer a significant innovation, then a car is the next logical thing to do. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone are not very relevant. Others in the auto industry somewhat agree with Musk’s sentiments. Bob Lutz is one who said that Apple will have to invest a lot of money for a foray into cars.
Who is winning the poaching war?
Musk, however, failed to give a satisfactory answer on what makes him think that Apple, which is the most valuable company presently, won’t be able to reproduce or surpass Tesla’s success considering Tesla is not expected to turn profitable until 2020.
Acknowledging that both Apple and Tesla want to poach each other’s engineers, Musk said in May that the attrition rates swing in favor of Tesla by a ratio of five to one. And, from the latest statement, it can be interpreted that Tesla is getting a better deal and that those quitting are bad apples. According to reports, Apple was offering Tesla employees signing bonuses worth $250,000 and a pay hike of 60%.
Apple is working aggressively on its car project, and the reports earlier this year claimed that hundreds of workers have been assigned to the job. Earlier this year, Apple Insider revealed that Apple is conducting car operations out of a secretive facility in Sunnyvale, Calif.