Bloomberg: Apple Car team adds more ex-Tesla executives, release at least 5-7 years away

A new report from Bloomberg today offers new details on Apple’s ongoing efforts to build a self-driving electric car. According to the report, Apple has a “small team� working on Apple Car, but a release is likely at least five to seven years away.

The report explains:

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has a small team of hardware engineers developing drive systems, vehicle interior and external car body designs with the goal of eventually shipping a vehicle. That’s a more ambitious goal than in previous years when the project mostly focused on creating an underlying self-driving system. The company has also added more ex-Tesla Inc. executives to the project.

Work on the Apple Car project has been delayed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report says. Currently, “the majority of the team is currently either working from home or at the office for limited time� because of the pandemic. This has caused Apple’s work on the project to slow down.

Engineers working on the project believe that a product could be released “in five to seven years if Apple goes ahead with its plans.� Ultimately, however, the car is said to be “nowhere near production stage� and “timelines could change.�

Bloomberg also has details on some recent hires for the Apple Car team, including former Tesla executives. Jonathan Sieve, formerly a vehicle engineer for Tesla, BMW, and Waymo, serves as a senior manager on the Apple Car team. Apple hired former Tesla vice president Stuart Bowers in late 2020.

The report says that all-in-all, Apple’s electric car team is “filled with dozens� of ex-Tesla hardware and software engineerings. Apple has “several hundred� engineers currently working on the project altogether.

Apple also recently hired Jonathan Sive, a vehicle engineer from BMW AG, Tesla and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, as a senior manager on the car project. In 2019, Apple tapped Michael Schwekutsch, Tesla’s former vice president in charge of drive systems, adding to a growing list of former Tesla employees working on the vehicle effort. 

Late in 2020, Apple also hired another former Tesla vice president, Stuart Bowers, according to a person familiar with the move. He led Tesla’s self-driving technology team until mid-2019 and was an executive-in-residence at venture capital firm Greylock Partners until July, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Finally, the report says that Apple has a small hardware team working on vehicle dynamics, drive trains, safety mechanics and battery technology.� The goal is to “re-imagine a car’s interior for a future in which people ride passively rather than steer.� Apple’s chip team is also working on processors to power the car’s self-driving system.

Today’s report from Bloomberg follows earlier reporting from Reuters, who said Apple Car could enter production by 2024. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, however, has said that the Apple Car launch could be 2028 or later depending on a variety of factors.

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