Apple recently made a major automotive hire that hints at the company’s continued work on an electric car, reports The Wall Street Journal. The company hired Doug Betts, who previously served as the Senior Vice President of the Chrysler Group, where he was the global head of operations leading product service and quality.
According to Betts’ LinkedIn page, he began working at Apple in July. Aside from a role in “Operations,” in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are no details on what he is doing at the company.
Betts’ LinkedIn profile suggests he made major customer satisfaction improvements and warranty cost reductions during his tenure at Chrysler, with job duties that included quality engineering, field issue problem solving, manufacturing operations, and supplier quality, among other tasks. Prior to working at Chrysler, Betts worked at Nissan, Toyota, and Michelin.
Along with Betts, The Wall Street Journal suggests Apple also recently recruited a researcher, Paul Furgale, with a specialization in autonomous vehicles to join its team of employees working on its car project. The company is said to be seeking out other experts with robotics and machine experience, with Furgale recruiting both students and researchers.
Earlier this year, Apple hired Paul Furgale a well-regarded autonomous vehicle researcher in Switzerland, and has begun recruiting other robotics and machine vision experts to work on a confidential project.
Mr. Furgale had been deputy director of the Autonomous Systems Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or ETH. Mr. Furgale previously had led a European Commission project called V-Charge that sought to develop self-parking vehicle technology.
News of Apple’s car project, code-named “Project Titan,” leaked in February, but details on the top secret effort remain scarce. Apple reportedly has hundreds of employees working on developing an electric vehicle and has been recruiting talent from the automotive industry and other car-related fields, poaching employees from companies like Tesla, Ford, and GM. Rumors have thus far disagreed on whether Apple is focusing on self-driving capabilities for the vehicle.
Rumors have suggested Apple is aiming to produce a car by 2020, but because Apple often works on projects that never make it to fruition, it’s possible that its car plans could be shelved or delayed in the future if the company is unhappy with its progress.