Will Apple Make Electric Cars?

My wife and I really enjoy driving our Ford C-Max Energi.  It’s the focus of this site.  However, it is really interesting to me that in the past few days, there’s been publications in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters and 9to5Mac about Apple creating a large team of employees working on an electric minivan.

The Wall Street Journal first reported this less than a week ago on February 13th.  According to the Journal, Apple is designing an electric minivan.  The car project lead is Steve Zadesky, a former Ford Engineer, who lead teams to create the iPod and iPhone.  The Journal said Mr Zadeskey was given the permission to create a 1,000-person team.  The Journal also said Apple hired Johann Jungwirth, who was the former president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development in North America.

Reuters published an article the next day, February 14th, that added Apple was working on self-driving and autonomous-driving electric cars.  It also said that Apple is recruiting experts in robotics.

Today, Bloomberg reports that Apple wants to start production of an electric car as early as 2020.  The article said that A123, a battery maker for electric vehicles, sued Apple because it is “poaching” their employees.  According to the lawsuit, this aggressive campaign to hire their employees started in June 2014.  The lawsuit also claimed, “Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123.”  The hiring of A123 employees started with former Ford engineer, Mujeeb Ijaz, who founded A123’s Venture Technology division researching materials, battery cells, and advanced concepts.  After starting at Apple in June, he hired other A123 employees according to Bloomberg.  Bloomberg also noted that Tesla’s Elon Musk complained this month about Apple offering $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases to hire away Tesla’s employees.

Also today, 9to5Mac reports many new hires at Apple.  Robert Gough, started in January from a company designing safety systems including airbags, radar and night vision.  David Nelson, a Tesla engineer that left and started at Apple this month.  At Tesla, he served as a mechanical engineer leading a team responsible for modeling, prediction and verification of motor and gearbox performance and efficiency.  Pete Augenbergs, an Apple employee since 2008 that formerly worked for Tesla, is a product design manager on the team.  Hugh Jay, a transmission and mechanical design engineer.  New hire, John Ireland, was a senior power train test engineer at Tesla since October 2013.  Previously, he worked for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on battery technologies to improve energy storage. Another new hire is David Perner, a Ford engineer that worked on “hybrid vehicle calibration, new vehicle launch, design and release…”  Perner worked on an upcoming hybrid Ford F-150.  9to5Mac reported the details of many more new hires on the Apple vehicle team.

The hybrid and plug-in vehicle market is definitely getting interesting.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying our Ford C-Max Energi.