Apple's 'Project Titan' car initiative negatively impacting Tesla's product development, source says

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited September 2015
The number of Tesla employees leaving the electric carmaker for positions in Apple's own vehicle group is beginning to affect Tesla's future product roadmap, AppleInsider has learned.


Artist's (poor) rendering of an Apple garage.


Apple's recruitment of Tesla workers has had a "big impact" on the marque's ability to keep up with development of future vehicles, a well-placed source with knowledge of the situation told AppleInsider. Tesla is preparing to deliver its Model X crossover this month following numerous delays.

It's not clear how, or even if, Apple's plans have impacted the Model X. The Model S sedan also suffered significant setbacks during its development, which began well before the kickoff of "Project Titan."

The story may be different for the mass-market-targeted Model 3, however. Tesla's Model 3 is tentatively scheduled for delivery in late 2017, but whispers of delays are already circulating throughout the industry.

Apple is thought to have as many as 1,000 employees working on Project Titan, with many of those coming over from Tesla. The hires run the gamut from production managers to senior engineers.
Apple is thought to have over 1,000 employees on Project Titan, many poached from Tesla.
In February, Tesla founder Elon Musk revealed that Apple offered $250,000 bonuses to lure Tesla workers to Cupertino, an offer Musk said few had accepted.

"Apple tries very hard to recruit from Tesla," Musk said. "But so far they've actually recruited very few people."

The tide appears to have turned, however. A later report indicated that Tesla employees were "jumping ship" for Apple's project, which is "too exciting to pass up."

Thanks to the mounting problems for Tesla --?still a fragile company despite its reputation --?AppleInsider's source "would not rule out" an acquisition of Tesla by Apple.

Musk has acknowledged having formal meetings with Apple in the past, and despite categorizing such a deal as "very unlikely" he has been unable to tamp down the rumors. Adding fuel to the fire, Musk was spotted in deep conversation with Apple design chief Jony Ive at an Oscars afterparty in February.

Still, an acquisition would seem unlikely for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Apple's longstanding aversion to big purchases --?the Beats deal notwithstanding. Apple seems to have overcome the recruiting hump, and Tesla has already released all of its patents into the public domain.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 110
    That's a juicy rumor. And of course, I would take anything said by Musk with a grain of salt. He's not exactly going to confirm to his investors if they were hemorraging talent. And in some cases, he may not know where Tesla's attrition is going if the employee who quits doesn't volunteer that information, such as by updating their LinkedIn profile.
  • Reply 2 of 110

    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.

     

    Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).

     

    Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.

     

    Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.

  • Reply 3 of 110
    Well, maybe this is Apples attempt to force Tesla's hand in buy-out talks. "We'll just keep hiring away all your talent until you are willing to sell!"... I can't see Tim doing something like this though...
  • Reply 4 of 110
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.</span>
    All luxury sedans beat 0-60mph with 6s or less, so making a slower luxury electric car is stupid because you couldn't prove that your technology is better than gas engines in performance. It's all about image such as: fastest EV and sedan on the planet with best drag coefficient for a sedan, longest range on a single charge...Without these, no one would want to buy Tesla but Nissan Leaf.
  • Reply 5 of 110
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post



     Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.

     

    Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. 


    Have you driven today's german dual turbo-charged autos? They are insanely fast. If that is your target market you have to match or beat the performance of your competition. He's not going after vegans in a Prius.

  • Reply 6 of 110
    mgzmgz Posts: 26member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. 


     

    Acceleration is definitely not "useless" in real-world driving. When changing lanes, merging into high speed traffic, etc., it comes in very handy.

     

    But more than that, this is how Tesla has convinced early adopters to pay for expensive cars that have led to Tesla's popularity, which will eventually lead to them selling more affordable cars (their ultimate goal). 

     

    Quote:


     Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X


     

    Those doors are extremely functional: They allow you much easier access to the rear two rows of seats (due to the headroom they provide). And they can fully open in a tight garage. Minivans only provide half that equation with sliding doors.

  • Reply 7 of 110
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,611member
    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.</span>

    Apple would never do that.... wait... um....... umm
  • Reply 8 of 110
    There may be a quid-pro-quo between Tesla and Apple. During lull periods for Tesla employees, they get to work for Apple, when Tesla needs them, they get to come back. Nothing wrong, and a lot right with cross-polination between Apple and Tesla.
  • Reply 9 of 110
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,923member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.

     

    Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).

     

    Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.

     

    Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.


    Clearly you don't know much about marketing high-performance and/or luxury goods.

    Tesla was not looking to compete with Prius' at the start.

  • Reply 10 of 110
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    Have you driven today's german dual turbo-charged autos? They are insanely fast. If that is your target market you have to match or beat the performance of your competition. He's not going after vegans in a Prius.


    I drove a Tesla a couple of months ago. For the money it is a lot of car but where I live.... totally impractical because there are next to no charging points and ... well you know the rest. The 0-60 time was not a selling point to me. Great to drive but for me it wss impractical.

    I ended up with an Outlander PHEV. Yes it is a different vehicle but it does not suffer from the range limitation. 20+ miles on electric power. That beats the prius plus it has 4WD and where I live on the side of a steep hill is almost essential.

     

    Now the hot Audi's and Beemers. Just as impractical on most roads as the Tesla IMHO. Sure you get great 0-60 times in an M3 etc but most people would not know how to drive them safely with all that power under their right foot. I've seen far too many wrapped around trees on tight bends so have any other opinion.

  • Reply 11 of 110
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by krreagan View Post



    Well, maybe this is Apples attempt to force Tesla's hand in buy-out talks. "We'll just keep hiring away all your talent until you are willing to sell!"... I can't see Tim doing something like this though...

    The company has a current, ludicrously overvalued market cap of $32B. Factor in a one-third premium (it could be more or less, but one-third is a long-run average for M&A in the US), and you're talking $45B.

     

    For a company that produces ~25,000 cars, has a battery factory that may/may not become operational at some point, is facing major competition from many major carmakers (BMW, Audi, Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes) moving into the electric space.

     

    Apple would be insane to -- and will not -- go there.

  • Reply 12 of 110
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     
    He's not going after vegans in a Prius.


    Please don't insult vegans. ;)

  • Reply 13 of 110
    irelandireland Posts: 17,669member
    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.</span>


    I think Musk is quite brilliant.
  • Reply 14 of 110
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.

     

    Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).

     

    Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.

     

    Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.




    Well, having crawled in or out of the back of my SUV on several occasions because someone parked too close to me, or I voluntarily pulled into a "compact" spot when there were no other spaces, I can tell you those Falcon wing doors really appeal to me. ;-)

     

    I will say this though, the interior of the Teslas are kind of cheap feeling, compared to other luxury vehicles of similar value. The money in this case, appears to be squarely invested under the hood.

  • Reply 15 of 110
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.

     

    Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).

     

    Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.

     

    Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.


    I totally agree, but Tesla needs to attract sales from the emotional buyers with lots of excess money to spend for a toy.

    Practical expensive electric cars have no significant market. Value electric commuter cars are needed.

    For my needs all Tesla car models are quite impractical. If I did a significant amount of urban driving, an electric car which was reasonably priced would be my desire. High top speeds and first rate acceleration is not needed.

  • Reply 16 of 110

    The acceleration is very useful when you need to get out of the way of a car that is careening towards you - for example, if you're turning left but someone is running the red light.  (that happens.  it happened to me... I was able to get out of the way and my Tesla doesn't even have the "insane" acceleration)

     

    Tesla needed to show that electric cars can be better.  Releasing a car that did 0-60 in 7 seconds would not show that.

     

    Model X doors... I agree they seem untested but I highly doubt people will think of them as "stupid" a year from now.

  • Reply 17 of 110
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    Please don't insult vegans. ;)




    Sorry didn't mean to. That wasn't my intention. Vegans are usually very intelligent, thoughtful people. Prius is a fine car as well. Those are just not the target market for Tesla. Actually I disagree with Consumer Reports about Tesla earning 100 out of 100 points. I have not driven one but riden in them a few times as one of my friends bought one. I like my BMW better.

  • Reply 18 of 110
    I don't want Apple buying Tesla. They can duplicate anything Tesla has done and come up with a better vehicle by starting from scratch. <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk makes stupid decisions with his cars.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Like giving the Model S insane 0-60 acceleration (which is useless in real-world driving) when he could have used less powerful motors. Nobody would have complained if the Model S took 7 seconds to hit 60. The cost savings would have been significant. Cheaper motors, wiring, motor controllers and battery construction (to handle the current of his high output motors all internal connections for batteries would have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of current).</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Or those stupid Falcon Wing doors of the Model X.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Musk seems to like to add features that make people go "ooh.....ahh" instead of features that actually improve the automobile.</span>

    You have no clue about luxury cars proven by this statement.
  • Reply 19 of 110
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by krreagan View Post



    Well, maybe this is Apples attempt to force Tesla's hand in buy-out talks. "We'll just keep hiring away all your talent until you are willing to sell!"... I can't see Tim doing something like this though...

     

    Why not? This kind of attrition war is the best tool in Apple's Arsenal. And... If Tesla is privy to what will do in the future, it's probably better to sell now, than get destroyed later.

  • Reply 20 of 110

    You conveniently left out of your article the rate of Apple staff departing Apple and moving over to Tesla.

     

    It's been said by Elon Musk (so... not conjecture) to be a 5-to-1 ratio... i.e. for every Tesla employee going to Apple, five Apple staff quit and go to Tesla.

     

    Tesla isn't in any jeopardy.

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