Apple Inc. has engaged Luigi Taraborrelli, one of Lamborghini’s development managers, to oversee the development of the company’s long-rumored car, known as Project Titan. There is no public announcement on Taraborelli’s employment, according to a Bloomberg report, which came from unnamed sources.
Taraborelli worked for Lamborghini for more than 20 years, most recently serving as the company’s head of R&D for Chassis and Vehicle Dynamics since 2008. His skills were put to use on various Lamborghini vehicles, including the Urus, Huracan, and Aventador.
The engaging of Taraborelli suggests Apple is quickening the pace of development of its mysterious self-driving electric vehicle program that has been known for the better part of a decade.
With a degree in Engineering of Materials, and a Masters in Car Engineering, Taraborelli says in his LinkedIn profile he “help(s) the company with the design and development of Super Sport cars to inspire and drive emotions in our customers. I have a unique combination of deep technical expertise, managerial skills and the ability to foster and lead organizational changes and innovation initiatives.”
Apple’s accelerating efforts
In May 2022, Apple recruited Desi Ujkashevic, Ford Motor Co.’s global director of automotive safety engineering, who had worked with the company since 1991. Ujkashevic’s career includes developing Ford’s latest electric vehicles as well as overseeing engineering on the Ford Escape, Fiesta and Focus, as well as the Lincoln Aviator and MKC. Ford characterized Ujkashevic’s move as a retirement, according to The Detroit News.
The move came as Christopher “CJ” Moore, the director of the Apple Car initiative, left the firm in the same month. He announced his move to Luminar Technologies, a business that specializes in Lidar and machine learning systems that same month, after less than a year.
Moore joined Apple following the resignation of the program’s previous director, Ford’s Douglas Field, who left to join Ford’s own EV program. Field, a product engineering executive, previously worked at both Tesla and Apple.
But Apple also hired former BMW exec and Canoo cofounder Ulrich Franz in 2021. Franz worked at BMW for 30 years before becoming CEO of EV startup Canoo in 2019.
Certainly Apple is working on something. According to an investigation by Japanese news site Nikkei and Tokyo analytics company Intellectual Property Landscape, Apple has submitted and published a total of 248 automobile-related patents since 2000.
An elusive target
Certainly, developing a self-driving car is a lot harder than those in Silicon Valley or automaker executive suites first thought. Google’s self-driving car project “died” six years ago, spun off into its own entity, Waymo. Meanwhile Apple’s seen a series of executives rotated in and out of the project. Even manufacturers rumored to be in talks to build it, such Hyundai, have rotated in and out of Apple’s orbit.
But it is far from clear what will emanate from the project, or even when, although the company continues to work on it. Apple iniated the project in 2014.
On the Apple Car team, Taraborrelli will be become “one of the most senior managers,” and is expected to assist in overseeing the Apple Car’s design. Additionally, a recent report claimed that Apple’s former chief design officer Jony Ive is engaged in the design of the Apple Car.
According to Bloomberg, engineers from Tesla, Rivian, Waymo, Volvo Car and Mercedes-Benz are working on the project, as are designers from Tesla, McLaren, Porsche and Aston Martin.
Reports suggest that Apple is looking to launch their fully autonomous vehicle in 2025, but its lack of a steering wheel or pedals could delay it, as the company would need to get a variance from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.