Apple lures an automobile powertrain expert away from Tesla

Let the Apple Car rumors keep rolling. Electrek reports that Apple has hired Michael Schwekutsch, Tesla’s engineering vice president in charge of powertrains, leading to renewed hope/speculation that the company plans a complete auto of its own.

In a motor vehicle, the powertrain or powerplant comprises the main components that generate power and deliver it to the road surface, water, or air. This includes the engine, transmission, drive shafts, differentials, and the final drive.

At Tesla, Schwekutsch participated in the development of Drive Systems like the one of the Tesla Roadster II and Tesla Semi / Tesla Truck. Now Electrek says he, along with several other Tesla vets, have joined Apple’s Special Project Group, which includes the tech giant’s “Project Titan division.”

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The Special Projects team was reorganized under a new leader, Bob Mansfield (who came back to Apple after retiring to take the job), in July 2016. Layoffs followed and Apple reportedly moved away from plans of building its own car. Until recently, the unit was believed to be focused on developing "autonomous systems.” 

However, this is Electrek’s take on the latest Special Projects hires by Apple: “Apple producing an electric vehicle from the ground up is a big deal.

Granted, they have no experience building vehicles, but they are hiring some top talent that made happened against all odds in the past, like Field [Doug Field, who was a longtime engineering executive at Tesla ]and Schwekutsch. If you add to that the hundreds of billions in capital and the incredible software and hardware expertise of Apple, I think you have a winning solution.”

However, as I’ve said numerous times, I don’t think Apple will build a full-fledged car. Instead, I think it will work with current car manufacturers on hardware and software implementations. For example, the tech giant signed a deal with Volkswagen to make self-driving cars after BMW and Mercedes-Benz reportedly rebuffed the tech giant's requests to hand over control of the data and design of the planned cars.