Apple snags expert on electric motors from Tesla

By

iCar concept
Hiring an expert on electric powertrains raises the odds Apple is designing its own vehicle. Just not this one.
Photo: NeoMam Studios

Apple’s electric car program just got a major boost. It’s hired away Tesla’s VP of Engineering, an expert on electric powertrains.

Dr. Michael Schwekutsch joined Apple this month.

He worked at Tesla for over three years, where he headed up development on drive systems; reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NHV); and Pack Manufacturing Engineering, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Before that, Schwekutsch worked at BorgWarner and GKN Driveline. He has a doctorate in engineering from Ruhr University.

His title at Apple is Senior Director of Engineering, SPG.  He’s working in the Special Projects Group, a semi-secretive area developing products that haven’t been announced yet, many of which aren’t traditional computers. In addition to designing cars, this group is also supposedly creating augmented-reality glasses. Other long-range research is also quietly going on.

Apple races against Tesla

Apple and Tesla frequently poach experts from each other. This is especially true for Apple’s car division, code-named Project Titan. In December, Apple hired away Andrew Kim, a senior designer at Elon Musk’s car company. It grabbed Tesla’s TP of Vehicle Programs last summer, and the process has been going on for years.

A rare glimpse inside Apple’s program to develop a self-driving car came to light last month. The company released a whitepaper describing the elaborate safety procedures used in development. This shows a bit about what the company is planning: a fairly typical autonomous driving system.

There have been questions about whether Project Titan was designing a car or just a self-driving system that Apple would license to other companies. Bringing in Schwekutsch, an expert on powertrains, would seem to point to plans for an entire vehicle. An iCar, perhaps.