Apple hires Tesla designer, sparks rumors.
Apple has yet again instigated murmurings among the automotive industry that it could be working on an actual car. While the Silicon Valley tech giant had essentially ended its self-driving car program, called Project Titan, in 2016 to instead focus on only the self-driving software aspect, new developments have restarted the rumor mill. This rejuvenation of the Apple car reports has been due in large part to the recent hire by Apple of Andrew Kim, a former senior designer at Tesla.
Kim started at Tesla back in 2015 after a stint at Microsoft where he helped craft user interfaces for Windows 10 and the Xbox One S. During his time with Tesla he worked on a myriad of projects such as the Model S, Model X, and the interior design for the Model 3. Even more crucially, he was involved with several vehicles that haven’t hit the market yet—the Model Y, the second-generation Roadster, and the Semi—which could give him important insight, despite the fact that he mostly likely signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Kim’s hiring and the renewed car rumors come in conjunction with several other hires by Apple, along with several patent filings. Doug Fields, a chief vehicle engineer at Tesla, had taken a leave of absence over the summer, but did not return, instead starting work at Apple in August. Fields had previously worked at Apple until 2013 when he jumped ship to Tesla. Apple also managed to acquire Jaime Waydo, a senior engineer from self-driving technology company Waymo, this past summer.
However, it is also possible that Kim was hired for his experience with user interface design that he acquired with Microsoft, or that he is simply being recruited for something related to self-driving technology and not an actual Apple car itself. Nonetheless, his hiring shows that Apple is busy and not afraid to dip its toes into the automotive industry when seeking out new talent.