It’s been awhile since we’ve heard about Apple’s plans to build a car, but a Fiat Chrysler executive just joined the Cupertino company in a move that signifies Apple still has its eye on the automotive industry.
The Wall Street Journal noticed Doug Betts’s job change in a LinkedIn update, though the former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles global quality chief has since taken down his profile. Betts joined Apple in July in an operations role, though his LinkedIn profile didn’t specify which product he was working on.
Betts’s experience is in car manufacturing, but Apple spent the early part of 2015 hiring experts in autonomous vehicles, robotics, and machine vision. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Autonomous Systems Lab Deputy Director Paul Furgale joined the company earlier this year, the WSJ reported. Before joining the Swiss lab, Furgale worked on self-parking car tech for the European Commission. According to the newspaper, Furgale has been hiring other researchers and graduate students to work with him at Apple.
Why this matters: Apple has been quietly building out its automotive team, but this isn’t the first time its hires have made headlines. Earlier this year, the company recruited from Tesla and car battery maker A123 Systems, reportedly to create a 1,000-person department under former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky. Apple’s rumored end goal: to produce an electric car by 2020. All signs point to something major in the works over at 1 Infinite Loop. If it turns out to be a vehicle, that could be the biggest product (in terms of size and achievement) Apple has ever made.