Apple has hired a former senior executive from BMW AG’s electric car division to work on its own self-driving vehicle,
According to Bloomberg, Ulrich Kranz joined the team at Apple is recent weeks after stepping down from his role as CEO of Canoo Inc – a self-driving electric vehicle developer – approximately a month earlier.
Interestingly, Kranz was at the helm of Canoo when it held talks with Apple in early 2020 to discuss its EV platform pitch. However, it’s unclear if this had anything to do with his eventual hiring at the company.
Apple has confirmed the hire to TechCrunch but did not elaborate on his role, job title or responsibilities.
Prior to this, Kranz worked at BMW for a whopping 30 years, playing a pivotal role in the development of the i3 and i8 vehicles.
Kranz’ hire isn’t particularly surprising considering Apple has enjoyed a longterm business relationship with BMW since 2004 when the company integrated iPods with the BMW infotainment system.
The hire comes as Apple continues its work – codenamed “Project Titan – developing a car that will aim to rival Tesla vehicles, with Kranz being one of the most noteworthy hires for the project to-date.
According to sources who spoke to Bloomberg on the condition of anonymity, Kranz will report to the head of Apple’s car project Doug Field, who previously worked for Tesla and spearheaded the development of the Model 3.
Kranz’ hire comes after Apple lost three important employees working on the project in recent months. Benjamin Lyon (engineering), Jaime Waydo (safety systems) and Dave Scott (robotics) all left the company for reasons that have not been publicly disclosed.
At this point, Apple is yet to officially confirm much about the Apple Car, with Tim Cook remaining relatively tight-lipped about the project apart from a 2017 interview with Bloomberg.
“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important… We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects,” he said at the time.
Although very little has been confirmed, there are a lot of rumours relating to the highly-anticipated vehicle — including the possibility of auto-tinting windows and smart lighting.
As for a release date, your guess is as good as ours. Reuters has floated the idea of an Apple Car as early as 2024, while analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed the vehicle won’t drop until 2025-2027, which is probably how long it’ll take you to save up for one.
You can keep up to date with every rumour and leak we know so far here.
Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Apple for comment.