Apple's auto-industry hires suggest an interest in more than software


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Power train engineers, former Tesla employees, and an expert on new battery technology are among the people now working at Apple, amid rumors that the company is building an electric car.

9to5Mac has come up with a list of auto experts--including new hires and existing employees--that are now working at Apple. Their resumes suggest that Apple is interested in more than just CarPlay, the software that connects iPhones to in-car dashboards.

For instance, new hire David Nelson came over from Tesla this month, bringing experience in “modeling, prediction, and verification of motor and gearbox performance and efficiency,” according to his LinkedIn profile. Hugh Jay, another new employee, designed transmissions and gearboxes at EMCO Gears, a parts supplier for various industries including motorsports.

Some of the hires also have expertise in large-scale battery technology. Mujeeb Ijaz, for instance, came over from A123 Systems, a company that's working on advanced new battery types for the transportation industry. (Incidentally, A123 is suing Apple for unfair competition, along with several former employees for allegedly breaching non-compete clauses in their contracts.)

Apple car rumors started gathering steam last Friday, when the Wall Street Journal reported that several hundred employees were working in secret on an electric car. Earlier that day, Financial Times reported Apple was recruiting experts from the automotive industry to work in a secret lab. A recent New Yorker profile of Apple design head Jonathan Ive, which mentions his disappointment with “most modern cars,” may have added some fuel to the fire.

Why this matters: Just because Apple is hiring automotive experts doesn't mean the company is building a car, and the list itself shows that some existing employees who came from the auto industry have spent time on unrelated products like the iMac. Still, it's hard to believe all these auto hires are a coincidence, and that in-car infotainment systems are the extent of Apple's automotive interests.

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