Apple has reportedly hired a former senior executive of BMW's electric car division to bolster its own development of a self-driving "Apple Car."
The Cupertino company "in recent weeks" hired Ulrich Kranz, who was the senior vice president of the BMW group that developed the i3 and i8 electric vehicles, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Kranz spent 30 years working at BMW before co-founding self-driving vehicle company Canoo. He stepped down from his position as CEO of Canoo about a month before joining Apple.
The BMW executive represents one of Apple's more high-profile hires for its autonomous vehicle initiative. Kranz will report to Doug Field, who led development of the Tesla Model 3 before leaving to run Apple's "Project Titan" car division.
Apple kicked off development of an electric vehicle in 2014. Since then, "Project Titan" has suffered a number of setbacks and staff layoffs. In 2016, Apple shelved its plans for a production vehicle to work on underlying autonomous systems that it could license to other automakers.
Since then, Apple appears to have shifted focus back to actually producing a full-fledged vehicle. It has made a number of high-profile hires, including a Tesla executive who worked on powertrains and a Porsche employee in charge of chassis development.
Apple was said to be in talks with Hyundai and KIA on a partnership to produce the "Apple Car." Those talks fizzled out earlier in 2021.
In 2020, Apple shifted its car project under the oversight of John Giannandrea, the Cupertino tech giant's chief of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In recent months, however, Apple's car project has lost a number of key executives, including Benjamin Lyon, Jaime Waydo, and Dave Scott.
It isn't clear when an "Apple Car" might debut, but reports indicate that it could take at least five to seven years to ship.
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