It's big move in Apple's journey to building a car.
Talk of Apple building its own car goes back as far as 2014. The Silicon Valley company has been secretive about Project Titan, but big plays can't be hidden. Apple and Hyundai have been in talks recently, and if a deal is reached, Apple will build cars at Kia's production plant in Georgia. However, Hyundai has recently been vocal about a possible deal to help Apple build the car, with an executive reportedly saying, "We are agonizing over how to do it, whether it is good to do it or not." In the meantime, it's being reported by the German publication Business Insider that Apple has poached Dr. Manfred Harrer, the Vice President of Chassis Development for the Porsche Taycan.
Hiring Harrer would be a major coup for Apple as he is considered to be one of the best engineers in the Volkswagen Group. He's an expert in chassis design but also wrote the book on modern steering design. The book isn't metaphorical in this case; it's called Steering Handbook and was published in 2017.
Harrer's career is long and started with Audi; then he moved to BMW before landing at Porsche. It's his experience developing the chassis for Porsche's first all-electric car, the Taycan, that will be most valuable to Apple, though. If the report is accurate, Apple will have made a huge score to help develop Project Titan.
The news may concern Hyundai, which has reportedly been worrying it could be "degraded to [a] service provider" if Apple takes its car development in-house. If Apple is leaning in that direction, and history shows Apple likes complete control of its products, then the deal may boil down to how badly Hyundai wants access to Apple's autonomous vehicle stack and software. Hyundai and Kia have their own electric vehicle ambitions, and enabling a new competitor to get into the game with relative ease may not be the smartest move.
Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about the project, and we only know that around 1,800 people were involved in the project in 2018 due to an FBI investigation into an Apple employee. Neither Porsche nor Harrer is commenting on the move yet.