Apple's Automotive Team Includes Former Tesla, Ford and GM Employees

Apple's alleged automotive team consisting of hundreds of employees working on an electric vehicle includes several former Tesla, Ford and GM employees, according to 9to5Mac. The report reveals that Apple has also recruited talent from smaller firms in the automotive industry and other fields, including A123 Systems, MIT Motorsports, Ogin, Autoliv, Concept Systems and General Dynamics.

GM Tesla
The list of recent hires from Tesla includes David Nelson, a mechanical engineering manager at the car maker until this month, and John Ireland, previously a senior powertrain test engineer at the company. Tesla's former head recruiter Lauren Ciminera also joined Apple in September and is likely responsible for recruiting additional engineers for the automotive team. The trio of hires surface just weeks after it was reported that Apple and Tesla continue to fight over top employees.

Another notable hire is Mujeeb Ijaz, who most recently served as chief technology officer at A123 Systems. Ijaz led a team responsible for research and development for the company's leading lithium-ion energy storage technology. Prior to that, he worked at Ford as an electric and fuel cell vehicle engineering manager for nearly sixteen years. The hiring adds fuel to yesterday's report that Apple faces a lawsuit for poaching key employees from A123 Systems.

The report adds that Apple has also recruited former Ford engineers David Perner and Jim Cuseo, although the latter has been with the company since 2010 as a product design lead and manager for the iMac. General Motors' Fernando Cunha recently joined Apple as well after working various engineering and product design roles at the auto maker since 2001. Dillon Thomasson of General Dynamics, Robert Gough of Autoliv, Hugh Jay of EMCO Gears and Rui Guan of Ogin are other new hires.

Last week, multiple reports from credible sources claimed that Apple is developing an electric vehicle that is possibly autonomous in a top-secret research lab near its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Some reports say otherwise, claiming that Apple is working on expanding its dashboard presence through CarPlay. These hirings suggest that Apple may be working on a larger project after all, but it remains to be seen if a full-fledged electric vehicle is in the works.

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64 months ago
It would be completely bizarre for Apple to actually be getting in to the automobile manufacturing business. I suspect this has much more to do with ancillary technologies like batteries, navigation, autonomous navigation, deeper auto integration, etc. Way too much of a departure from the core technology business.
Rating: 20 Votes
64 months ago
Something cool is happening in Cupertino.
Rating: 20 Votes
64 months ago
Now the Spaceship campus makes sense... There is probably a race track in there for testing.
Rating: 13 Votes
64 months ago
I can't wait to see how Samsung responds :D.
Rating: 9 Votes
64 months ago

Perhaps they're working on a space vehicle ... And it runs OS X -> Space X?
Rating: 8 Votes
64 months ago

It would be completely bizarre for Apple to actually be getting in to the automobile business. I suspect this has much more to do with ancillary technologies like batteries, deeper auto integration, etc. Way too much of a departure from the core technology business.

So was the cell phone business before the iPhone and music player business before the iPod.
Rating: 7 Votes
64 months ago
Don't forget that Apple also hired former president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Johann Jungwirth to join the company as Director of Mac Systems Engineering.
Rating: 6 Votes
64 months ago
Tesla owner here...

I've been a Tesla owner for a couple of years and a Mac user for decades. The Tesla boards are all abuzz over this, too. What's not being talked about in this thread are comments by Elon Musk a week or so ago in an earnings call:

"I do have a secret weapon on the demand side that will probably start to deploy later this year for demand generation. We’ll see how that goes. It isn’t totally necessary but I think and it could be pretty interesting, I could [indiscernible] dealers."

There's speculation on the Tesla boards that the secret weapon is a partnership with Apple. Possibly one in which Apple harmonizes all of the Model S's functions on the 17" display. From CarPlay to navigation and autopilot UI, Apple would do a great job improving the already great user experience.

This would certainly increase exposure for Tesla, presumably increasing demand. Furthermore, because this comment was in the context of countering automobile dealer associations' attempts to block Tesla direct sales, it's interesting to note that having Apple as a partner could make part of every Apple store a Tesla showcase, either through a Tesla mockup in-store or even Tesla demonstrations to interested people. They're not demo-ing the car, per se, just the Apple experience in the car. This could skirt the requirements that Tesla only operate through franchised dealers in those states that are still clinging to that model of car sales. The increase in exposure for Tesla would be enormous.

All in all, I don't think Apple is going to make a car. I think they're going to push CarPlay and their UI brilliance into as many automotive lines as they can, now that the human/car interface is becoming so much more audiovisual than ever before, beginning with Tesla.
Rating: 5 Votes
64 months ago
Personally I'm still waiting on an Apple branded television and the Powerbook G5.
Rating: 4 Votes
64 months ago
We get it. They are working on a car, or something car related....and their team includes people who know things about cars, or car related items.
Rating: 4 Votes

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