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Apple May Back Away from Auto Manufacturing

Tech firm reportedly shifts focus to driverless tech systems it could license to auto industry.

by on Sep.12, 2016

“We've always viewed that people love surprises," Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Washington Post.

It has been one of the worst-kept secrets in Silicon Valley – but while Apple has been widely reported to be working on a high-tech automobile program, dubbed Project Titan, new indications are that the iPhone-maker may be backing off from that effort.

The new reports suggest that Apple has fired “dozen of employees” involved in the automotive project, a sharp reversal from the aggressive hiring program that had been in places for the past year. Apple had hired a number of industry veterans from conventional automakers, as well as high-tech auto firm Tesla Motors.

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But rather than abandon Project Titan entirely, reports in The New York Times and other media sources indicate Apple is now looking to provide high-tech, autonomous – or even driverless – technology to existing automakers, rather than trying to build cars on its own. Such an effort could put it directly in competition with another tech giant, Google.

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Tesla, BMW Lose Key Battery-Car Talent

Apple and Chinese start-up Future Mobility go poaching.

by on Apr.20, 2016

Several key members of the BMW i team, including the head of i8 development, have bolted.

It still refuses to acknowledge any plans to develop a car of its own, but consumer electronics giant Apple has reportedly been poaching a number of auto industry veterans for what is believed to be known internally as Project Titan – and that now includes a senior Tesla executive.

Chris Porritt, a one-time Aston Martin designer, had been more recently working at Tesla, helping in the development of its two current products, the Models S and X, as well as the upcoming Model 3 battery-electric sedan. According reports in several Silicon Valley publications, Porritt will now serve at Apple as Special Projects Group PD Administrator.

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Porritt, however, isn’t the only battery-car executive jumping ship. German automaker BMW has reportedly lost a number of key members from the team that developed it i3 and i8 electric vehicles. The group, which includes Carsten Breitfeld, leader of the team behind the i8 plug-in sports car, will now work on EV development for the Chinese-funded start-up Future Mobility Corp.

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Google on Hiring Spree for Autonomous Vehicle Program

Will it build cars, after all?

by on Feb.12, 2016

Google plans to expand the range of places it is testing its autonomous prototypes.

Google is putting out the “Help Wanted” sign, and it could signal a major shift in plans for its Google X autonomous vehicle program.

For the last several years, the high-tech firm has said it doesn’t want to produce its own vehicles but would rather find partners – a term used by Google X CEO John Krafcik during a visit to Detroit last month. But among the dozens of jobs being advertised, at least some put a focus on manufacturing skills.

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That includes one for a manufacturing process engineer who would be responsible for “designing factory assembly stations, optimizing production floor layout, automating critical manufacturing processes and approving fixture designs used in the assembly of electronic modules for the self-driving car.”

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Still Secret Apple Car Project Suffers Series of Setbacks

But project moving ahead, says key rival.

by on Jan.26, 2016

Apple execs won't confirm their plans but hint of "massive change" coming in the auto industry.

While tech giant Apple isn’t ready to confirm the car project it has reportedly dubbed Project Titan, it has become what one rival calls “an open secret.” But while the program appears to be moving ahead, sources warn that it has suffered a series of unexpected setbacks.

One of the key members of a team now said to number as many as 1,000 employees plans to leave, while another senior Apple exec has expressed his frustration at the progress the program is making, according to reports from Silicon Valley.

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That said, after touring Silicon Valley this past week, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche told the German publication Welt am Sonntag he was impressed with what he learned about the car programs at Apple and tech rival Google.

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Nearly 20 Mil Self-Driving Cars Expected to be on the Road by 2025

Dealing with the deadly “Trolley Problem.”

by on Dec.03, 2015

Autonomous vehicles, like this Google Car, could become a common sight in barely a decade.

While the first autonomous vehicles  are only expected to reach production by 2020, a new study forecasts they will catch on fast, with as many as 20 million of them likely to be operating on roads around the world by the middle of the next decade.

That said, the new study by Britain’s Juniper Research emphasizes that even by 2025, self-driving vehicles will represent less than 1% of the vehicles in use around the world. And that raises serious flags, industry analysts warning that things could get bumpy in the first years the technology is in use.

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“The research noted that concerns over the decision making capabilities of these systems have been raised and questions have been asked about the decisions autonomous vehicles would take when presented with…two disastrous outcomes,” stated a summary of the new Juniper study.

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Change Is Coming Warns Apple Boss Cook

Declines to elaborate on the role that tech behemoth will play.

by on Oct.21, 2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about how the auto industry will change in the future, but limited details about Apple's role in to CarPlay.

Apple’s top executive is predicting that the automobile industry is on the cusp of massive change.

Tim Cook, Apple chief executive officer, said this week that the automotive industry is on the edge of sweeping change during a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, but he declined to say if the world’s most valuable company by market capitalization would play a role in that transformation.

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Cook detailed the factors changing the automobile business, including the growing importance of software in the car of the future, the rise of autonomous vehicles and the shift from an internal combustion engine to electric-powered vehicles. (more…)

Toyota Developing Autonomous “Highway Teammate”

Japanese maker still skeptical about self-driving technology.

by on Oct.07, 2015

"Look ma, no hands," as Toyota demonstrates its new Highway Teammate technology.

Toyota plans to roll out new technology that will allow its vehicles to autonomously navigate limited-access roadways. Dubbed “Highway Teammate,” and set to go into production by 2020, the system will be able to change lanes, merge with traffic and overtake slower vehicles.

Toyota is the latest automaker to lay out plans for the fast-emerging world of self-driving vehicles. But while its announcement is meant to underscore the maker’s technical prowess, it also reveals Toyota’s “cautious” nature, the Japanese giant still skeptical about the pace at which high-tech automobiles will be able to take over driving duties from humans.

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Toyota’s system is less an auto-pilot than co-pilot, designed to handle relatively mundane chores as an assistant to a human driver who will remain in control, especially on more crowded urban roads. Some competitors, notably including Nissan, hope to have fully autonomous products that can navigate all roads on sale by as early as 2020.

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Apple Moving Fast on Car Project

“Project Titan” set to ship by 2019.

by on Sep.22, 2015

Apple's Jeff Williams has broadly hinted at the company's plans to enter the auto industry.

Apple could have its first car, a battery-powered, autonomous vehicle, on the road by 2019, according to a new report.

While the company, best known for its computers, iPhones and iPads, has yet to confirm it will enter the automotive business, Apple’s efforts have become increasingly visible as it hires away talent from other automakers, and meets with regulators to discuss issues such as rules on self-driving vehicles.

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The maker’s automotive project is known internally as “Project Titan,” and a new report in the Wall Street Journal says Apple has set a “ship date” of 2019, though that is not a guarantee a car would actually be ready for sale that year.

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Apple Hires Key Tesla Engineer as Daimler Mulls Joint Ventures with Apple, Google

A Silicon Valley “poaching war” turns up the heat.

by on Aug.24, 2015

Apple's Jeff Williams has hinted at the possibility that the company may be looking at moving into the auto industry with more than its CarPlay system.

Apple has hired one of Tesla’s top autonomous driving engineers, according to a post on LinkedIn, the latest sign that the Silicon Valley firm best known for its smartphones and computers is getting ready to enter the auto industry.

Separately, the CEO of Daimler AG suggests he would be open to an alliance with both Apple and its high-tech rival Google, which has become a leader in the development of autonomous vehicle technology. The parent company of Mercedes-Benz also has had an ongoing relationship with Tesla.

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“Many things are conceivable,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told the German magazine Deutsche Unternehmerboerse. “Google and Apple want to provide system software for cars and bring this entire ecosystem around Apple and Google into the vehicle. That can be interesting for both sides.”

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Apple Hires Former FCA Quality Chief

Doug Betts adds in “Operations – Apple Inc.” to online resume.

by on Jul.21, 2015

Fiat Chrysler quality czar Doug Betts resigned a day after the company's brands finished at the bottom of Consumer Reports' quality rankings.

The rumors swirling around Apple’s possible entry in the automotive industry just got another entry to keep them moving: the tech behemoth has hired former Fiat Chrysler executive Doug Betts.

Betts abruptly left FCA last year to “pursue other opportunities.” If his LinkedIn profile is to be believed, he’s landed in Cupertino, California, at Apple. His current job is listed as “Operations – Apple Inc.,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Long-rumored to be producing an electric vehicle, Apple has been hiring hundreds of engineers, designers and other auto experts to oversee the EV project, which is code-named Titan. (more…)