apple car concept

Talking to sources, 9to5Mac has put together a list of key experts Apple’s hired and assigned to its rumored car thing, code-named Project Titan. The project is led by product design Vice President and former Ford executive, Steve Zadesky.

Another big hire is Johann Jungwirth, President & CEO, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America.

He specializes in integrating smartphone functionality and developing advanced user experiences. All told, the Cupertino firm is reportedly is assembling a thousand-people team under Zadesky. Hundreds of them are from an automotive hardware background and were hired recently or around the time Tim Cook reportedly approved the project.

Here are some of them.

Here are, I think, five of the most important hires that I cherry-picked from the nearly two dozen executives mention in the article:

  • David Nelson. Just recently hired away from Tesla Motors, where he served as a mechanical engineering manager leading a team responsible for modeling, prediction, and verification of motor and gearbox performance and efficiency and tackling high profile reliability and warranty projects.
  • Mujeeb Ijaz. Hired away from A123 Systems Inc, a company that just sued Apple over employee poaching to develop a “large scale battery division”. The firm  develops advanced Nanophosphate lithium iron phosphate batteries and energy storage systems, including energy modules for electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • David Perner. Previously with Ford, where he worked on hybrid vehicle calibration, new vehicle launch, design and release and research. His LinkedIn profile mentions that he also helped accelerate “adoption of new transmission for Ford’s upcoming Hybrid F-150 by improving existing fuel economy models.”
  • Dillon Thomasson. Lead Design Engineer at aerospace and defense products company General Dynamics, he’s now on Zadesky’s team at Apple.
  • Lauren Ciminera. Formerly Tesla’s Lead Recruiter, she now hires away automotive experts from other companies and lures them into Apple.

As you can see for yourself, these are all A-players with years of experience in direct car manufacturing, vehicle research and automotive design. And just like Apple has hired medical experts to help create the Watch’s fitness and health tracking features, the scope and the skill set of these hires strongly indicate that the firm is researching a vehicle of its own rather than simply extending its CarPlay software platform.

The Apple Car story began growing legs earlier in the month, when the press discovered a handful of unmarked minivans driving around California with roof-mounted camera equipment, leased to Apple.

Here’s a video footage of Apple’s mysterious minivan testbed that AppleInsider captured Monday, possibly revealing more detail on its equipment while showing at least two people who man the vehicles during testing operations.

The story quickly took a different spin after headlines mentioning an Apple-branded vehicle started appeared in last week’s editions of The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

While The Wall Street Journal asserted that Project Titan is an electric vehicle, Reuters described it as an autonomous self-driving car.

Source: 9to5Mac