The rumors that Apple is working on an electric car codenamed Project Titan just got a lot stronger with a lawsuit by A123 Systems that accuses the iPhone maker of stealing key EV battery engineers.
Reuters reports that beginning in June of 2014, Apple began approaching key employees of A123 Systems, including several in leadership positions on critical projects. These engineers were so key to some projects that without them, the projects had to be put on hold or scrapped altogether.
A123 Systems is still going through a 2012 bankruptcy and buyout, including the sale of assets and the conclusion of several longterm research projects. A123 Systems was purchased by China’s Wanxiang Automotive, which also owns Fisker and intends to bring the plug-in hybrid back into production. Presumably, everything A123 knows or owns that is of value to Wanxiang will be folded into the larger company, as its owner has every intention of building an electric car empire to rival Elon Musk’s. Apple has also been accused of trying to poach talent from Tesla, though it’s met with limited success.
Apple apparently has similar plans though, with the A123 lawsuit accusing the tech giant of “…developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123.” A123 Systems specializes in larger batteries meant for transportation purposes, and was the sole provider of batteries for the Fisker Karma, as well as the Chevy Spark EV until GM brought battery production in-house.
Can Apple build a true Tesla rival and navigate a notoriously difficult industry? It certainly has the cash to do so, and the evidence that Apple is building an electric car is all but undeniable at this point. I for one can’t wait to see the iCar, with its proprietary windshield wipers and mediocre motor.