appointed Apple Inc. Ulrich Kranz, a former senior BMW executive who focused on electric cars, to help spearhead its own automotive efforts.
The hiring process is the latest sign that Apple is serious about building the electric car to compete with automakers like Tesla.
Hyundai said earlier this year that it was in talks with Apple to make its own car before retracting its comments and saying it was no longer in discussions.
Apple has never confirmed that it makes a car. But it has hired talents from the auto industry. and tested self-driving programs in California.
In 2018, Apple hired Doug Field of Tesla, who worked on the Model 3.
With its expertise in supply chains, battery technology, and user experience, Apple is a major competitor to the incumbent automakers if they ever release a car.
The Apple car project has been restructured several times, most recently in early 2019.
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The iPhone maker did not say whether Kranz was working on the car project, called Special Projects Group, or SPG. But Kranz has extensive experience building teams focused on electric vehicles.
Prior to joining Apple, Kranz was a co-founder of Canoo, which is working on a self-driving electric car.
At BMW, where he worked for 30 years, Kranz led the company’s electric vehicle development program, which resulted in the i3 electric car and the i8 hybrid sports car.
Apple electric car:
Kranz’s hiring is one clear indication that the iPhone maker is determined to build a self-driving electric car. Kranz reports to Doug Field, who now runs the Apple Car project.
Apple has become the most valuable company in the world with a market capitalization of more than $2 trillion by selling iPhones, iPads, Macs and services.
With investors and customers demanding new products, the company has targeted cars and augmented reality glasses.
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Apple began developing the car in 2014. But it halted efforts in 2016 to focus on an independent platform that it could sell to other companies or use itself.
During these periods, the company acquired several Tesla executives. Who are now helping to lead the architecture and programs for autonomous driving, interiors and exteriors.
Apple last year gave oversight of the process to John Gianandrea, senior vice president of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Several months ago, Apple restarted its efforts to develop a fully electric car. But development is still in its early stages. So the launch is likely at least five years away.
Before Kranz was appointed, Apple lost some key auto executives. It left Benjamin Leon, Jaime Waido and Dave Scott, who worked in engineering, safety systems and robotics. It is unclear why the three left.
Apple has worked with BMW for many years, merging the iPod with its automatic infotainment systems in 2004. More recently, it made the iPhone function as a car key.
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