Apple Hires Former Chrysler Executive, Fueling EV Rumors - InformationWeek

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7/22/2015
07:05 AM
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Apple Hires Former Chrysler Executive, Fueling EV Rumors

Apple's hiring of a former Chrysler executive for its undisclosed electric vehicle project, Titan, adds more grist to the rumor mill.

New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
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Apple is best known for its sleek, well-designed line of smartphones, tablets, and computers, but rumors have persisted that the company is looking into electric vehicles.

This chatter is likely to gain more traction following a report in The Wall Street Journal that Doug Betts, a former global quality executive at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has joined Apple, though Betts declined to comment when contacted by the paper.

While working for Chrysler, Betts's responsibilities included field issue problem solving and warranty management, manufacturing operations, proving grounds operations, supplier quality, technical service, and product development process leadership, according to his LinkedIn profile page.

Apple's electric vehicle project -- code-named Titan -- still hasn't been officially acknowledged by the company, despite reports that Apple has both hired hundreds of new employees to explore the venture and even reached out to workers at Tesla, Elon Musk's electric car company.

A February report in Bloomberg described Apple's plans to enter the electronic vehicle market in 2020, according to unnamed sources said to have knowledge of the matter.

In May, Apple settled a lawsuit filed against it by lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123, which sued Apple after five employees left the company to work for Apple. The company argued that they violated their employment agreements.

The two companies signed a settlement agreement, but neither company commented on the development. Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

(Image: Jason Doiy/iStockphoto)

(Image: Jason Doiy/iStockphoto)

Alongside Tesla and mainstream automakers like BMW, Fiat, Toyota, and Ford, Google is among the other players looking at the electric vehicle space.

Google has been fairly public about its self-driving cars, even when the automobiles get into accidents. One that happened earlier this month made headlines this past weekend, following a blog post about the fender-bender.

[Read about Google's latest fender-bender.]

According to a report published earlier this month by Transparency Market Research, the global on-road electric vehicles market is forecast to record 64.4 million units in volume of sales by 2019.

Revenue is expected to reach a value of more than $271 billion by 2019, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 20% between 2013 and 2019 -- a year before Apple would supposedly enter the market.

Geographically, North America dominated the on-road electric vehicles market in 2012. It is expected to retain its dominant position during the forecast period thanks to several government initiatives for promoting the adoption of electric vehicles in North America.

The report noted that Nissan Motors, General Motors, Tesla Motors, Honda Motors, and Toyota Motors are among of the leading players in this market, and collectively accounted for more than half of total marketshare in 2012.

On a Tesla earnings call in May, Tesla CEO Musk said he welcomes additional competitors in the electric car market, including Apple, which is known to dominate fields that it enters, even when that's years after other companies.

"I certainly hope Apple gets into the car business," Musk reportedly said on the call. "That would be great."

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/24/2015 | 4:56:57 AM
Re: iRoad
Mak, Google is a smart company. It puts its eggs in as many baskets as it can. Having many divisions is good for business. Apple is also a smart company. With Apple CarPlay Apple has already entered the automotive business. CarPlay is available in Volvo's connected cars. See here: https://www.apple.com/ios/carplay/ -- So, I find the idea of an Apple car fascinating. -Susan
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2015 | 6:48:54 PM
Re: iRoad
@Susan Yes, Google car is weird and it looks weird too. Nonetheless, we're so used for Google to do strange things that we're not surprised anymore. From driverless cars, space competition, windmills to fiber and many more, Google is always spending money on stuff. Perhaps is my lack of search spirit, but I don't hear the same with Apple.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/23/2015 | 10:58:01 AM
Re: iRoad
Mak, don't you find a Google car weird? -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/23/2015 | 9:10:52 AM
Re: Success not guaranteed
Whoopty, you forget about Steve Job's generation. Apple has never targetted its products only to the very young generations. That's a misconception. -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/23/2015 | 9:06:41 AM
Re: unlikely
nasimson, no, it's not an unrelated business. The connected/autonomous car is related to the the iPad and iPhone. In fact, Apple is already in the car business with Volvo's autonomous/connected cars. This has been like this for a good while now. -Susan
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2015 | 7:08:57 AM
Success not guaranteed
As much as I wouldn't be surprised if Apple looked into electric cars - if for no other reason that it has to do something with its many billions of reserve capital - I can't see it being anywhere near as successful. Apple relies on a relatively young audience for its fandom, one that is not going to be financially as capable of dropping a lot of money on one of its cars, as they can with an Apple Watch or iPhone. 

Without that hipster sect of its audience, I wonder how many people would actually buy an Apple car based on its merits?
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2015 | 12:43:50 PM
unlikely
seems very very unlikely that Apple will enter into car business. Apple has only entered into related categories very calculatedly and carefully:

iMac -> ipod

ipod -> iphone

iphone -> ipod touch

iphone -> ipad

iphone -> iwatch

Car is a whole new business.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2015 | 11:30:20 AM
iRoad
"I certainly hope Apple gets into the car business," Musk reportedly said on the call. "That would be great."

Musk says that because "...could push "broader consumer acceptance of electric vehicles." Which of course, it's a huge yes in my dictionary.

Still find it weird thinking of an Apple car. I wonder how they're gonna call it. Maybe iRoad, iCar? Cars manufacturers won't be happy about it though.
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