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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Apple poaches key Porsche executive as Apple Car rumors pick up steam – BGR

Must read

  • Apple recently hired a top Porsche executive to help work on its EV project.
  • Apple has been in talks with Hyundai Motor to help it manufacture an Apple-branded electric vehicle.
  • A top Apple analyst believes an Apple EV could launch as soon as 2025 in a best-case scenario.

Apple recently poached a top engineering executive named Manfred Harrer from Porsche, according to a report from Business Insider Deutschland. Apple’s recent hire adds even more credence to rumors regarding Apple’s ambitions in the automotive space. During his stint at Porsche, Harrer was a widely respected engineer with a specialty in chassis design.

“The American headhunting is amazing,” a former VW manager tells BI. “Mr. Harrer was a hidden gem. He’s a very low-key guy who doesn’t go looking for praise. He’s the measure of all things in his field.”

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News of Harrer joining Apple comes at a time when Apple’s automotive plans — after years of speculative reports — are finally starting to crystalize. Just three weeks ago, a Hyundai Motor representative said that the company was talking with Apple about partnering up for EV production and battery development. Automotive production is an insanely expensive endeavor and Apple looking to outsource this part of the manufacturing process makes a lot of sense.

Incidentally, the Hyundai Motor representative added that Apple was talking to a handful of other auto manufacturers about similar partnerships.

“We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers including Hyundai Motor,” the representative said. “As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided.”

Following that, a report from Reuters claimed that Apple, with Hyundai’s assistance, could introduce an Apple-branded electric car as early as 2027.

More recently, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, largely regarded as the world’s top Apple insider, issued an investor note claiming that Apple’s somewhat mythical electric car will be based on Hyundai’s E-GMP electric car platform.

Hyundai writes of the platform:

Designed exclusively for BEVs, E-GMP provides various advantages compared to the Group’s existing platforms, which have each been engineered predominantly to accommodate internal combustion engines. Benefits include increased development flexibility, powerful driving performance, increased driving range, strengthened safety features, and more interior space for occupants and luggage.

E-GMP reduces complexity through modularization and standardization, allowing rapid and flexible development of products which can be used across most vehicle segments, such as sedans, SUVs and CUVs. Moreover, flexible development can satisfy various customer needs for vehicle performance.

What’s more, Kuo said that Apple’s car might offer 300 miles of range on a single charge, a fast-charging option up to 80% in less than 20 minutes, and a top speed of 160 MPH.

Kuo believes an Apple car might arrive as early as 2025, an ambitious timeline to say the least:

We predict that Apple will launch the ‌Apple Car‌ in 2025 at the earliest. The new iPhone takes about 18–24 months from initial specification definition to mass production based on experience. Given the longer development time, higher validation requirements, more complicated supply chain management, and very different sales/after-sales service channels for the automobiles, we believe that Apple, which lacks car building experience, is already on a tight schedule if it wants to launch the ‌Apple Car‌ in 2025.

Kuo believes that Apple’s EV will be positioned as a high-end car, though it’s unclear what type of price range Apple is going for. As a frame of reference, Tesla’s Model S starts at around $70,000. Apple of course didn’t become a trillion-dollar company by selling low-budget items, and it stands to reason that Apple’s EV will be somewhat pricey.

Another point worth mentioning is that not everyone at Hyundai is thrilled at the prospect of working with Apple. According to a report from Reuters, some Hyundai employees aren’t keen on becoming a “company which manufactures cars for others.” One executive within the company added: “It is not like working with Apple would always produce great results.”

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A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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