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Rumor: Apple preparing to 'give Tesla a run for its money' with new automotive project

Tesla's upcoming Model X crossover.

Apple is supposedly working on a vehicle-related project that is "too exciting to pass up" for potential hires, according to a new report, and is said to have employees from electric carmaker Tesla "jumping ship" in order to take part.

"Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up," an unnamed Apple employee is said to have told BusinessInsider. "I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money."

No further detail was given, and it is unclear exactly how Apple would compete with Tesla. The publication suggests that Apple may be working on a new in-car experience that would function something like an enhanced version of CarPlay and control more vehicle functions, but this would not be fundamentally at odds with Tesla's mandate of selling electric cars.

Apple could be working on a full-fledged car —  late company cofounder Steve Jobs was said to have taken an interest in such an effort —  but that seems unlikely, as does Apple's rumored development of self-driving vehicle technology, a field which Tesla is known to be exploring.

Despite suggestions to the contrary, a number of mysterious sensor-laden vans registered to Apple and spotted around the country in recent weeks are unlikely to be related to autonomous vehicles. Rather, the vans' sensor kit is almost certainly meant for so-called "ground truth" data collection destined for Apple Maps.

While Apple's intentions are unclear, the company is known to have heavily recruited Tesla engineers, offering $250,000 bonuses and significant salary bumps. Relatively few have made the move.

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