Is this Apple’s next big thing?
Tech giant Apple's ambitions to build a car appear to be ramping up following reports it has poached another senior engineer from electric car maker Tesla.
Having reinvented the phone, watch and portable computer, Apple now appears to be stepping up moves to disrupt the automotive industry under the long rumoured and highly secretive Project Titan.
Bloomberg reports that Tesla's former vice president of engineering for interiors and exteriors, Steve MacManus, has started with Apple as a senior executive, further fuelling speculation Apple is pouring billions into autonomous vehicle development.
MacManus's LinkedIn profile states he is a Senior Director at Apple.
MacManus left Tesla earlier this month creating speculation as to where he may pop up next, having formerly worked for Aston Martin, Jaguar/Land Rover and Bentley.
He is the latest in a string of high-profile ex-Tesla hires by Apple, having snapped up senior engineers Michael Schwekutsch and Doug Field in 2018 (in 2016 Apple also hired engineers from Holden).
Such moves have previously created friction with Tesla chief Elon Musk, who in 2015 suggested Apple was a "Tesla graveyard", adding "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple - I'm not kidding".
It may not help that Tesla has had something of an executive exodus in 2019, continuing a trend of talent moving elsewhere. The VP of production, Peter Hochholdinger, was one who left for Lucid Motors, a start-up "reimagining what a car can be".
However, in the past Tesla has done its fair share of poaching from Apple, the proximity of the two companies in California's Silicon Valley no doubt contributing to the fluidity.
Either way, the latest moves ramp up the speculation that Apple is preparing to make its mark on the car industry.
Just last month Apple bought autonomous vehicle start-up company Drive.ai, reinforcing its interest in self-driving technology.
While tech companies such as Apple and Google (through its autonomous vehicle division Waymo) have long been rumoured to be working on autonomous vehicles, none yet appear to have a factory to produce them, sparking speculation they may simply provide the technology to existing car makers rather than start from scratch.
As for Apple's plans, there is still more secrecy than clarity, although respected news website AppleInsider suggest the company appears to have "shifted back to an internally-designed vehicle after a period spent on platform technology".