An indicator for coming events come often from small rumors, which are passed around in Silicon Valley. Apple’s Project Titan is one of them with lots of rumors. First it was reported that Apple wants to build a car. Apple never confirmed that. Then more and more engineers from local automotive companies moved to Apple, until around two years ago, Apple seemed to have decreased most of their activities, and the same engineers returned to other car companies. Apple, so the rumors, wanted to focus on software for autonomous vehicles.
When then one-and-a-half years ago a friend of mine who had worked at Tesla at the electric drive train told me over some coffee, that the past weeks he was contacted twice by Apple recruiters, it became clear that Apple must be working on more than just software for autonomous cars.
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Now the rumors are intensifying that Apple is increasing the scope of its activities, and there are multiple indicators. First, the former VP of Engineering for the electric drive train at Tesla, Michael Schwekutsch, moved to Apple. Then the results that Apple cars showed in California’s latest Disengagement Report were pretty embarrassing: solid last spot. NIO, the Chinese electric vehicle startup with locations in San Jose (just two blocks from where I live) and Munich, on the other hand just unveiled its new all electric sedan, the ET. Also the NIO ES8 (an SUV), sold only in China, was spotted as a mule for autonomous driving in San Jose. And did I mention? NIO is not just developing electric vehicles, but also autonomous vehicles. Because I live just around the corner of the NIO office, I keep spotting their vehicles all the time. And at the same time, NIO’s financial results were a bit underwhelming.
Just today I got tipped off that Apple Project Titan staff was spotted at the NIO offices. Well, that may not mean much, as many companies talk to each other. But connecting the dots – the small facts that I just listed – and this may be forecasting something bigger to come. Cooperation? Acquisition? Or just simply some engineers drinking coffee talking about cars?
What do you think?
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This article has also been published in German.