Secretly, over several years, Apple has hired professionals from different areas of automobile development. However, it’s their latest hiring of an executive from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that’s fueled speculation an Apple Car is mere years away from launching. What else would the company do with $200-plus billion in reserve cash? Develop automobiles, of course, but with Google already testing their unmanned vehicles in California and Amazon taking their deliveries to air, expect some pretty stiff competition in the vehicular space.
Adding Doug Betts, an ex-FCA quality chief (but giving him an “Operations” title), sounds fishy. Especially since he’s been with Michelin, Toyota, Chrysler, and Nissan, none of which produce iPads or mobile telephony. Over an undisclosed period of time, Apple has put together quite the team.
- A research pro from Kawasaki Robotics turned into an automation engineer with Apple.
- An inventor, of sorts, who built Bentley prototypes became an engineering programmer for Mac Systems.
- Johann Jungwirth, specializing in Internet connectivity in cars, became an engineering director for Mac Systems.
- An unspecified crash test dummy guy.
- Scores of car battery experts, which has spurned a legal battle with A123 Systems.
- An Infosys contractor who specializes in newer digital radio/navigation/backup camera interfaces.
- A noise vibration expert, now an acoustics engineer with Apple.
Not to mention, Apple has hand-picked dozens of automobile engineers from various manufacturers. Clearly, it’s hard not to speculate what’s going on behind closed doors with so many professional auto experts running amok, unless they’re planning an interconnected system which allows Macs to talk with iPhones from cars — which would negate the need for crash test dummies.
Given the code name “Titan,” Apple developments usually remain under wraps until a working prototype is created. Google is decades ahead of Apple in autonomous vehicle testing, so scratch that idea, unless Apple (AAPL) decides they’ll join forces — which would’ve halted the hiring of Swiss autonomous vehicle expert Paul Furgale. So much speculation, so few answers. Only nibbles of information bled into mainstream through media saturation to go by, although we’re positive all the trappings of automobile manufacturing are beginning to surface.
What’s even more confusing is how Tesla purportedly swiped five times as many employees from Apple over a year than Apple successfully lured from Tesla. Perhaps Elon Musk has something clandestine involving similar technology to what Apple developers are grinding away at? With roughly 17 million light vehicles expected to move nationally in 2015, Apple has picked an open space where $200 billion could easily triple within ten years.
[Photo by Eric Thayer / Getty Images]