Apple Inc has hired two former executives from two car companies kin a clear indication of the intention of the iPhone maker to enter the car production industry.
Apple confirmed the hiring of Ulrich Kranz, a former BMW executive and the recently departed CEO and co-founder of EV startup Canoo.
It has been reported that Kranz’s role will be related to the electric car project of the Silicon Valley behemoth – which is currently being headed by Doug Field, the former Tesla executive who runs the day-to-day operations of the project which is known by the codename of “Project Titan”.
Kranz had played an important role in the development and launch of BMW’s all-electric i3 hatchback and hybrid i8 sports cars. Kranz and fellow BMW executive Stefan Krausehad joined the struggling EV startup Faraday Future to help it stage a turnaround. Kranz had left the German automaker at the end of 2016. Both the executives had left the startup in late 2017 after a clash with Faraday Future’s founder and founded what eventually became Canoo.
An all-electric van that was planned to be sold on a subscription basis only and which was revealed in 2019 was conceived by Kranz, Krause, and a handful of other expats from BMW and other legacy automakers. The designing of the van was centered around a compact, modular platform and included a battery pack, the electric motors, and virtually all of the electronics of the vehicle. Canoo had hoped to sell or license the to other manufacturers.
In early 2020, Apple had started negotiations with the startup because of the attractiveness of the EV platform pitch from Canoo. However those talks broke down because it was reported that Canoo wanted the iPhone maker to make an investment while Apple was more interested to buy out the startup. Canoo also had an agreement with Hyundai to build vehicles based on the platform. The startup however has since walked away from that deal.
It has been reported that the team within Apple that is working on an electric, autonomous vehicle is very large and Kranz’s position is right at the top of the team. According to reports, Apple had initiated this project in 2014 but has since revised it multiple times. At one point in time, Apple had decided to focus only on development of autonomous technology only, claimed reports. However over the last year, apple has refocused on efforts for developing a vehicle and has reportedly geld talks with multiple automakers as well as battery companies such as China’s CATL.
(Adapted from TheVerge.com)