Is Apple planning an iCar? Tim Cook hires Chrysler executive Doug Betts as it eyes Tesla, Google and Uber over electric cars

 
Lynsey Barber
Follow Lynsey
Apple CarPlay launched last year, but what's next? (Source: Getty)

Not content with taking over our ears (Apple Music) and wrists (Apple Watch) this year, Apple may now have its sights set on taking over our roads.

Tim Cook has hired the an executive from Chrysler, fueling speculation that there may be an iCar coming down the road.

Doug Betts, a former senior vice president at the American carmaker who led global operations for quality, has joined Apple in an operations capacity, the Wall Street Journal first reported, citing a change on his LinkedIn profile.

Read more: UK steps on it with £20m driverless car funding

While it's not clear if Betts is bringing his auto expertise to Apple, and, of course, the California-based company had no comment on the hire, he brings a long career in the industry to the new job, including stints at Nissan and Toyota.

It's just the latest hint that indicates Apple may have ambitions to take on another entirely new industry that would pit it against not just the traditional carmakers but electric vehicle makers from Silicon Valley such as Tesla, Google and even Uber.

Here's what else Apple's been up to that maps out the possible road ahead for an iCar.

Read more: Google' self-driving cars have caused their first injury

Project Titan

Details of a new top secret Apple project codenamed Project Titan leaked earlier this year.

Apple is apparently well beyond the concept stage of an electric car project and has dedicated space down the road from its Cupertino campus for working on the vehicles, a building codenamed SG5.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had even said he wanted to take on Detroit, the traditional home of the car industry in the US, according to the New York Times, after Phil Schiller, a senior boss at Apple, revealed in testimony during a trial with Samsung.

The year 2020 has been mooted as the earliest date for the full reveal.

Partnerships

The iPhone maker ahs already partnered with the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Volvo on CarPlay which brings a host of features such as Siri and maps integrated into people's cars. Far from its own car, but it's clear Apple has already built relationships with car makers.

BMW's production chief earlier this month indicated discussions were ongoing between itself and Apple and Google, and is open to partnerships, although stressed that the actual development of cars was "not the subject of these talks".

The boss of Fiat-Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, has also had meetings with Apple, Google and Tesla.

People

Betts isn't the only person to bring some car know-how to Apple.

Tesla boss Elon Musk said in February that Apple has been on a hiring spree for Tesla staff while a battery technology company A123 Systems sued Apple for poaching top engineers.

Meanwhile, Steve Zadesky, a former Ford executive who joined Apple as a vice president of product design for the iPhone and iPod, is said to have been put in charge of the project.

One of its biggest recent hires has also been Johann Jungwirth, the man who used to head up research and development at Mercedes.

Related articles