Apple Hires Another Auto Industry Vet, Possibly For EV Project

JUL 24 2015 BY JAY COLE 30

Apple Makes Another Interesting Hire From The Automotive Industry

Apple Makes Another Interesting Hire From The Automotive Industry

It seems that with each passing hire, the possibility that Apple will bring an electric car project of some kind to the masses gets more and more real.

The most recent hire to join Apple’s family of “several hundred” employees working on a new EV project expected to arrive in around 4 years is Doug Betts, a long-time industry veteran according to the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Betts is fresh from an assignment at Fiat/Chrysler heading up “global quality” at the Italian-US automaker.

Currently, his job at Apple is just listed as “Operations-Apple Inc.” in the San Francisco Bay Area from his LinkedIn profile (which as of press, now appears to have been removed).

Meet Doug Betts (via LinkedIn)

Meet Doug Betts (via LinkedIn)

Apple's Secretive "Titan" Project Is Actually Said To Be More Mini-Van Like Than Car

Apple’s Secretive “Titan” Project Is Actually Said To Be More Mini-Van Like Than Car

Requests made to the former auto-exec about ‘just what he does’ at Apple from the WSJ have lead to a tidy “decline to comment“, further fuelling the rumor he is working on Apple’s now not-so-secret Titan project, which is headed up by Steve Zadesky – a former product designer and engineer at Ford.

Recently, court documents from a case between battery maker A123 and Apple filed last year (now settled), stated that Apple was aggressively acquiring its IP and personnel, as it was “currently developing a large scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123.”

Given that Apple is currently sitting on ~$200 billion in cash, we welcome any news that the largest company in the world is getting serious about the electrification of the automobile.

Wall Street Journal (sub)

Categories: Apple, General

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30 Comments on "Apple Hires Another Auto Industry Vet, Possibly For EV Project"

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C’mon Apple, just invest half that cash in EVs will ya?

Amazon will be next

Nah, if Apple is researching it, that means Samsung will release it half baked a year before them. The more the merrier.

If the auto industry thinks Tesla as a threat, what about Apple? (Without doing all the math) Apple has more cash on hand than the entire auto industry On top of that has a loyal worldwide customer base in the hundreds of millions, much more than any automaker.

If Apple releases a lineup more compelling than the Apple Watch, it could bring the legacy OEMs to their knees. (and probably vaporize Tesla in the process)

I think far more likely is it’s a software system for the car, and if they do make a car, they still won’t vaporize Tesla. What a crack-brained thing to say. Tesla has a strong reputation already, a vast supercharger network and the gigafactory has a considerable lead on any Apple effort, even assuming Apple wished to compete in the battery space.

I’m waiting for the AOL or Yahoo! EV. 😉

Don’t forget that both Apple and Google are getting into the auto infotainment business. This could be nothing more than a new Apple CarPlay hire.

Yes, or Apple’s work on expanding the inter-connectivity between mobile devices and autos. Not to mention the increasing focus on vehicle autonomy. I honestly believe that the media is reading WAY too much into these cross-industry hires.

Freud said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Who’s to say that after years of working in the automotive industry, Betts is looking to try something new in the consumer electronics industry? And starting in Apple’s work with something similar to what he’s done already is only natural.

My guess is that Apple is working on a package for self-driving cars, including the sensor systems, and both electronic and electro-mechanical interfaces for the driving controls.

While Apple does actually have the capital to enter the auto manufacturing market, that would be rather far outside their product line. If Apple wants to concentrate on making high-profit products, as they currently do, then they’ll avoid making cars like the plague.

Now, that’s not to say that Apple won’t build or convert prototype EVs as a platform for for testing self-driving cars, just as Google has done. But actually getting into mass producing automobiles of any kind, including EVs? That I find unlikely.

Another possibility is that Apple plans on making battery packs for auto manufacturers, and of course just like Tesla, that tech could be extended to stationary energy storage.

The one thing Apple produces is consumer products. They aren’t suppliers.

Apple is clearly working on a car. The hires from the car industry that have been documented for Project Titan are largely manufacturing related. These aren’t design people. They’re the ones who know how to mass produce cars.

A car is no bigger of a leap than the phone was if you understand that a car is increasingly a computing platform on wheels.

Spot on!

Apple prides themselves on supply chain management and manufacturing. My concern is a car is 1000x more complicated than a phone. But Apple has the cache (and cash) to reel in the expertise.

They are clearly researching building a car to sell directly to consumers through their existing retail network. Still, I would give it a 20% chance of seeing the light of the showroom. How many people own the iTV promised 4 years ago?

If Apple can’t figure out how to make an amazing vehicle, with 60% margins, it will not go forward. They might burn $10b – $20b in the process, then just say “oh well, would you like an iPhone 10S?”. And make the cash back in one quarter.

@ Pushmi-Pullyu — +1

It’s not very far fetched that Apple is working on an EV. In fact, quite a few electronics companies are and the reason is simple: an EV is just a computer on wheels. There is very little in terms of mechanical engineering on an EV, at least compared to a gas car. What the car can or cannot do is mostly dependent on software, not micrometer precision mechanics.

That is exactly what Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning thought when they founded Tesla Motors. Hey, we can build cars like Silicon Valley builds computers!

Learning how very wrong that is was a long and difficult road for them. No, you can not run a heavy industry (automobile manufacturing) like a light industry (making electronics and computers). Hopefully those who run Apple won’t make the same mistake.

It’s not quite the same with Apple vs Tesla. There are plenty of people to hire who knows how to set up a car manufacturing line. It’s really only a matter of how much money you can throw at the problem and there is the difference between Tesla and Apple: Tesla, as any startup, had a hard time finding enough funds and control cash flow. Apple on the other hand bathes in cash, they could start 10 Teslas without much problem.

Faraday Future is Apple…

Interesting idea. Any info to back it up?

I kind of hate this rendering. Maybe it is the lack of detail on the front end. I guess I like to see headlights even though they are small to give the car a “face” The design looks like a mouse – maybe it is a joke – is it supposed to mimick a computer mouse?

That was my reaction the first time I saw the rendering; it’s a mouse!

I always thought it looked like a whale.

I would love to see the interior rendering. Just one button on the dash to drive the car with 😉

“Mr. Betts is fresh from an assignment at Fiat/Chrysler heading up ‘global quality’”

Guess he saw the futility of working on that one 🙂

He was fired from FCA after all their brands were at the bottom of Consumer Reports reliability survey.

“DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler’s quality chief has left the company, a day after the automaker ranked last in a closely watched U.S. scorecard on vehicle reliability.

Doug Betts, 51, who joined Chrysler from Nissan in 2007, will “pursue other interests,” Chrysler said in a statement today.”

http://www.autonews.com/article/20141028/OEM02/141029851/betts-leaves-chrysler-after-another-poor-quality-showing

ayep, that’s a pretty major ouch.. gotta wonder what he could bring to Apple’s table..

I REALLY hope Apple is working on an EV. The more the merrier.

And lots of crazy Apple fans will buy it as an accessory to their iPhone.

I don’t particularly like Apple but I think that if Apple can do to the car market what it did to the cell phone market we are going to have very interesting cars in the future.

Also, if I were the head of a fossil car company I would be quite worried about the future of my company. Ford and GM may end up as the equivalent of Nokia once Apple, Foxconn, Xiaomi and possibly Samsung start releasing their cars.

They should already be losing sleep over Tesla. If Apple is added to the mix they’ll be having full-on nightmares!

It took GM over 30 years to improve quality that matched Japanese quality. Maybe current GM board of directors is less blind to the ev transition.

Most probably they wont enter the retail market but will create a self-driving vehicle to propose Uber-like services. Directly embedded into the iPhone, without 3rd party app.
Uber takes USD2 out of a USD10 ride, USD 8 goes to the driver -> there is 80% margin remaining to be taken with self driving cars.
And if you do the maths, you will see that a USD 50k vehicle can be amortized in 1 year only !

Again, congrats Elon for making a conversation like this even Thinkable — in 2009 if you had suggested Apple might be considering entering the automobile arena in any way, shape or form, you would have been ridiculed to the point of career harm, even if you were an expert in your field.

Former head of global quality at FCA… leaving the boat at the perfect timing:
http://www.freep.com/story/money/2015/07/26/fiat-chrysler-nhtsa-fine-recalls/30693265/