Tesla VP Chris Porritt Recently Joined Apple's 'Special Projects' Group

Tuesday April 19, 2016 8:10 AM PDT by Joe Rossignol

Apple hired former Tesla Motors Vice President of Vehicle Engineering Chris Porritt last year to join its "special projects" group, possibly to spearhead its much-rumored electric vehicle project, according to Electrek.

Chris-porritt-aston-martin

Chris Porritt and the Aston Martin One-77 supercar

Porritt brings decades of experience in the European automotive industry with him to Apple, having worked on vehicle dynamics as a principal engineer at Land Rover between 1987 and 1997 before serving as chief engineer at Aston Martin until 2013.

During his tenure at Aston Martin, Porritt played a significant role in designing the One-77 supercar, while he also led teams that worked on the similarly luxurious DB9 and V12 Vantage. He left the automaker to join Tesla three years ago.

At Tesla, Porritt reportedly worked on the Model S and Model X, in addition to the chassis of the recently-announced Model 3.

Porritt's role at Apple is unsurprisingly secretive, having been assigned the vague title of "Special Projects Group PD Administrator," but his automotive expertise suggests that he could have a senior role within the "Project Titan" team that is widely rumored to be working on the so-called "Apple Car" project.

Following the recent news that alleged "Apple Car" project lead Steve Zadesky would be leaving Apple for personal reasons, Porritt's seniority would make him a strong candidate for a leadership role within the company's secretive automotive team. At least a few Apple engineers are already reporting to him internally, according to the report.

We can confirm that some senior Apple engineers will be reporting directly to Porritt, including Product Development Engineering Director, Albert Golko, who until last year was working for the iPhone group and now on unspecified products. Emery Sanford is also said to report directly to Porritt now. Sanford is a prolific engineer named in dozens of Apple’s patents and who often worked directly with Zadesky, the exec believed to have been in charge of Project Titan until earlier this year.

It is publicly known that Apple and Tesla have been fighting over top employees, and recruiting talent away from each other's respective companies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk once called Apple the "Tesla Graveyard" where fired Tesla employees go to work. Musk has also referred to the "Apple Car" as an "open secret."

GM Tesla
Apple's purported automotive team is believed to include hundreds of employees that previously worked at A123 Systems, Autoliv, Concept Systems, Ford, General Motors, General Dynamics, Land Rover, Tesla Motors, Texas Instruments, and elsewhere. Apple Car R&D could be finalized in time for a 2019 or 2020 launch.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tag: Tesla

Top Rated Comments

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52 months ago
After discussing with other experts in the field, I've concluded that he joined Apple
to work on new Apple Watch straps.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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52 months ago
Looks like big score for Apple. All the cars he worked on look stellar.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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52 months ago
Aston Martin <3
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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52 months ago
Contrary to what Musk has said, it doesn't sound like Porritt is someone who would have been fired from Tesla, nor does it sound like his presence at Apple constitutes a "graveyard".
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
I wonder if Apple plans on showing anything at all before people start configuring/committing to their Tesla Model 3's. If Apple is quick, people who have Model 3 deposits can still get them refunded and swap to Apple. That's what GM is banking on with the Bolt (but there's little evidence that anyone is actually doing that.) If the Model 3 remains on schedule, Tesla will start asking people to configure their cars and make the full payment in ~15 months.

It seems to me that a large amount of the people who would be interested in an Apple Car if they knew anything about it will instead be purchasing the Tesla Model 3 and so be set for 5-10 years on the car front if Apple fails to say anything before then.

Unless Apple is planning on doing some kind of car share program, where people don't need to make large commitments. But that would be very unique for Apple... up until Apple Music they always had the stance that people prefer to own things.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
Looks like a man with mighty fine taste. Some beautiful cars he's worked on.

Project Titan is the most excited I've been for an Apple rumour since the "Apple Phone".

I hope I can look back in 25 years and view the original Teslas like I think of the early cell phones. Much better in theory than the landlines they replaced, but still lacking. I'd like to see Apple build on the work Tesla, GM, Toyota etc. have done and come up with something I really want to own. Much like the iPhone built on the work Palm, Blackberry, Synbian and the rest did.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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