The hire of Tesla’s Senior Design Manager once again fuels speculations around an Apple car

Apple’s poached Andrew Kim, Tesla’s Senior Design Manager who spent two years with the Silicon Valley automaker. He will be working on undisclosed projects at Apple.

His LinkedIn confirms that he started in his new designer role at Apple earlier this month. Just last week, the former Tesla designer posted about his first day at Apple on his Instagram. The post confirms his first day working at Apple Park was last Tuesday.


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Day 1

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At Tesla, he worked on designs for many of its existing and unreleased vehicles, including Model 3, Model S, X, Semi, Roadster V2 and Model Y. According to a 2011 interview, his focus at Tesla was on designing the cabin space inside the Model 3, depicted below.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design, the designer joined Tesla from Microsoft’s HoloLens program where he worked from June 2013 through November 2016. He came to the attention of Microsoft after doing mockups in 2012 envisioning a Microsoft branding concept that eschewed the traditional Windows logo for a more minimalistic parallelogram.

“Promise to deliver the future today,” Kim wrote at the time on his blog Minimally Minimal. “Be almost science fiction.” During his three and a half years at Microsoft, he was working on the company’s augmented reality headset and the design of Xbox One S.

Speaking of HoloLens, here’s an example of how Volvo is using Microsoft’s technology.

His new gig may or may not be indicative of Apple’s elusive electric car project.

Project Titan has pivoted a few years back from full-on automobile hardware to autonomous driving software that could be deployed in partnership with existing automakers.

With that in mind, I would say that the hire more likely hints that he’ll be charged with adding augmented reality features to Apple’s CarPlay software in the form of an ARKit-powered overlay that could be projected onto a car’s touchscreen or a heads-up display.

Alternatively, he might have been hired to work on Apple’s augmented reality glasses.

It’s really hard to figure out what Apple has been up to with its car project but it’s interesting the hire came just months after Tesla’s chief vehicle engineer, Doug Field, returned to the iPhone maker. Both men now seem to be working closely with project head Bob Manfield.

Last but not least, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted Apple would take advantage of in-house designed ARM chips for use in Project Titan. In an August note to clients, the analyst wrote that an Apple-branded car is on track and coming within 5-7 years.

Do Apple’s moves mean its car ambitions might have changed once again?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Apple Car concept courtesy of Top Speed