Apple hires longtime auto executive, stokes electric car rumors

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2015
It came out Monday that Apple hired automotive manufacturing and quality control executive Doug Betts, suggesting the company is moving forward with a potential heavy industry project rumored to be an electric vehicle.




As noted by The Wall Street Journal, Betts' LinkedIn profile shows the longtime auto exec moved to Apple's "Operations" team in July. Prior to Apple, Betts most recently served as Head of Quality at Chrysler Group, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, for seven years until leaving in 2014 to pursue other interests. He has held similar quality assurance positions at Japanese auto giants Nissan and Toyota.

Interestingly, FCA chief Sergio Marchionne was in California in May to discuss Apple's "intervention in the car" with CEO Tim Cook. It remains unclear what was discussed, though FCA's subsidiaries account for 20 percent of all manufacturers that currently support CarPlay.

Betts' move to Cupertino adds fuel to speculation surrounding a so-called "Apple Car." Apple is rumored to be working on an electric vehicle, dubbed Project Titan, which could boast advanced functionality like autonomous driving features not currently available in mainstream cars. Reports in June claimed the project has become a drain on talent, however, with personnel reassignments taking a toll on other departments.

AppleInsider in March uncovered proof of an off-site Apple operations complex seemingly related to Project Titan. A group of buildings leased by Apple contain car-related amenities including a garage, repair bays and various research and development facilities. The exact nature of Apple's secret campus is unknown, though it could serve as a regional basecamp for the company's mapping van initiative.

Other evidence of Apple's supposed interest in electric vehicles includes a handful of hires from battery technology company A123. The small firm filed a lawsuit against Apple earlier this year, alleging illegal poaching of top researchers involved in high-performance, large format battery products.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 655member

    Please don't call it the 'iCar'!

  • Reply 2 of 42
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Do people seriously still think this is all about CarPlay on steroids? Think about it...we start getting rumors this year that a car project is underway. The WSJ says Tim Cook approved a team of 1000 to work on it. The Financial Times says Apple's design team has been meeting with auto executives trying to poach them. 9to5Mac reports on some of the known project members which include mechanical engineers inside Apple that have prior automotive experience. At the re/code conference Jeff Williams says the car is the ultimate mobile device. Then at the end of May Jony Ive hands off day to day design duties to two lieutenants and his updated bio on apple.com says his responsibilities include "new ideas and initiatives".

    There's no doubt in my mind Apple is working on a vehicle. Exactly what kind of vehicle is the million dollar question.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,357member
    brakken wrote: »
    Please don't call it the 'iCar'!

    If they want to sell to me it will need to be called iPickup. Oh it needs to be reasonably priced too, survive the winters in the fridge north and have some sort of range extending capability.
  • Reply 4 of 42
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,357member
    rogifan wrote: »
    Do people seriously still think this is all about CarPlay on steroids? Think about it...we start getting rumors this year that a car project is underway. The WSJ says Tim Cook approved a team of 1000 to work on it. The Financial Times says Apple's design team has been meeting with auto executives trying to poach them. 9to5Mac reports on some of the known project members which include mechanical engineers inside Apple that have prior automotive experience. At the re/code conference Jeff Williams says the car is the ultimate mobile device. Then at the end of May Jony Ive hands off day to day design duties to two lieutenants and his updated bio on apple.com says his responsibilities include "new ideas and initiatives".
    While all of the above is true the company I work for has hired many people from the now defunct Kodak. That doesn't mean we will be making film.????
    There's no doubt in my mind Apple is working on a vehicle. Exactly what kind of vehicle is the million dollar question.

    I don't dismiss the possibility that Apple is working on a car project, or maybe better said a transportation project. To get any real traction in the marketplace it needs to be something very unique and hopefully advanced enough to impress people. That will be hard to do at the price points a car needs to be marketed at. Tesla has demonstrated that going after the luxury market does not make a car company, the volumes are too low for a startup business. In fact there have been numerous examples of the issues startups have in the transportation space.

    Sadly I think the problem with transportation startups is that people no longer have much of a desire to tinker with their automobiles and have very high expectations of driving without thinking about the operation of the car. Even the performance car / sports car industry has suffered from this mentality of late. So Apple needs to manage a initial first delivery of a high performance vehicle that creates interest in the buying public. By high performance here I mean the over all function of the car from the motive force to the radio. And yes iCar needs an AM/FM radio.

    What is even more interesting here is how would Apple manage such a project in secret. Just building a plant will not go unnoticed even in China and the plant needs to be built at least a couple of years before first delivery. Further the plant really needs to be established in the USA. Beyond all of that you need to line up several dozen component and subassembly suppliers. In all likelihood we would start hearing about iCar a couple of years before the first unit comes off the production line. By hearing I mean solid information that goes beyond the current rumors.
  • Reply 5 of 42
    Quote:

    Prior to Apple, Betts most recently served as Head of Quality at Crapler Group 


    Heh...yeah, I bet he was real busy too.

     

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    If they want to sell to me it will need to be called iPickup. Oh it needs to be reasonably priced too, survive the winters in the fridge north and have some sort of range extending capability.



    This is an area I suspect Apple will meet headwinds with...the F-150 hasn't been the best selling vehicle in America for several decades just because there are no other options. Trucks and SUV's are popular, no matter what some Prius-driving hippie might want. (I'm not saying Apple is filled with Prius driving hippies)

  • Reply 6 of 42
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,926member
    I don't know if I would've hired the head of quality guy from Chrysler for anything.
  • Reply 7 of 42

    Calling it now: Hoverboard

  • Reply 8 of 42
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,799member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Brakken View Post

     

    Please don't call it the 'iCar'!


    Nah. Apple try to move away with "i"prefix and use "Apple" more lately. Apple Car I believe and will have model name to distinguish. Tesla have Model S, X, E..., Apple can go for number or Greek alphabets. Let's say: Apple Alpha, Beta and such...

    Hopefully, Samsung don't make cars...lol.

  • Reply 9 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post

     

    Nah. Apple try to move away with "i"prefix and use "Apple" more lately. Apple Car I believe and will have model name to distinguish. Tesla have Model S, X, E..., Apple can go for number or Greek alphabets. Let's say: Apple Alpha, Beta and such...

    Hopefully, Samsung don't make cars...lol.




    Tesla can't make a Model E, Ford owns the trademark.

  • Reply 10 of 42

    Thought Apple Car was debunked when it was found out the mini vans were just used for mapping?!?

  • Reply 11 of 42
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,799member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     



    Tesla can't make a Model E, Ford owns the trademark.


    WRONG. Tesla didn't want Model E trademark, so Ford registered it AFTER Tesla dropped it. My original comment was only context for the use of alphabets for Tesla...they could use any letter now or even number (last rumor: Model 3...because it starts at $30k range)

  • Reply 12 of 42
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,799member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Bryant NorCal View Post

     

    Thought Apple Car was debunked when it was found out the mini vans were just used for mapping?!?


    No one knows anything about Apple car. So fare, there's been only speculations based on hiring. Mini vans for mapping are nothing related t project "Titan" as rumored. Still, I hope Apple get into home automation before automobile.

  • Reply 13 of 42
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Heh...yeah, I bet he was real busy too.




    This is an area I suspect Apple will meet headwinds with...the F-150 hasn't been the best selling vehicle in America for several decades just because there are no other options. Trucks and SUV's are popular, no matter what some Prius-driving hippie might want. (I'm not saying Apple is filled with Prius driving hippies)

    Heh, well Jony Ive drives a Bentley Mulsanne, not exactly the most eco-friendly vehicle out there. Of course I have no doubt whatever might do will be electric.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,962member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    If they want to sell to me it will need to be called iPickup. Oh it needs to be reasonably priced too, survive the winters in the fridge north and have some sort of range extending capability.

     

    Apple TV

    Apple Pay

    Apple Music

    Apple Watch

     

    Yep, they'll definitely be calling it "iCar". 

  • Reply 15 of 42
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    I don't know if I would've hired the head of quality guy from Chrysler for anything.

    Well he also worked at Toyota and Nissan. Obviously he has the background and experience Apple is looking for.

    Your comment reminds me of people knocking Apple's hiring of Kevin Lynch because he came from Adobe where he was involved with Flash. As though he has no other experience or good qualities that would make him a worthwhile hire.
  • Reply 16 of 42
    brakken wrote: »
    Please don't call it the 'iCar'!

    Well the "Homer S" was already taken.
  • Reply 17 of 42
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,926member
    rogifan wrote: »
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    I don't know if I would've hired the head of quality guy from Chrysler for anything.

    Well he also worked at Toyota and Nissan. Obviously he has the background and experience Apple is looking for.

    No wonder they've had massive recalls recently.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    focherfocher Posts: 615member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

    This is an area I suspect Apple will meet headwinds with...the F-150 hasn't been the best selling vehicle in America for several decades just because there are no other options. Trucks and SUV's are popular, no matter what some Prius-driving hippie might want. (I'm not saying Apple is filled with Prius driving hippies)


    Is that a "marketshare" recommendation to Apple? Pretty sure they'll design a car they believe is great and that they will want to drive. And I bet you won't find too many F-150s in the Apple employee parking lot.

  • Reply 19 of 42
    This is all nonsense. The real question is will it support offline playback of apple music???!!!

    Seems doubtful apple needs to enter a new industry... let alone the auto industry. It would be the ultimate 'one last thing'. Entertainment and electronics seem like a more natural fit than where the rubber meets the road.
  • Reply 20 of 42
    Please, Do Not Build An Electric Car. There I said it.
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