Apple Sued For Poaching Battery Engineers From A123 Systems



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.

Image: Asif Islam /

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Pretty ironic as it seems that A123 originally grabbed the technology from work that John Goodenough was doing. Everyone thought that Apple and Tesla would end up hooking up but it appears that Apple is intent on doing it on their own.

  • Joe Viocoe

    Could it be that EV battery engineers are also useful as Mobile device battery engineers?

    This is an example of the media “curve fitting” every little thing, to fit the narrative that Apple is going into the automotive business.

    I don’t see any real evidence this is happening. Just media on a UFO hunt.

  • Wiggletoes

    There is a new type battery (flow battery) that can supply 400 mile range for EV’s but its really a fuel cell. Maybe Apple understands that this new battery technology could end the oil economy and is the start of the Hydrogen Economy.

    • Joe Viocoe

      That is NOT a “new type”. It is an old idea, that requires an even more extensive infrastructure than Hydrogen. So really the worst of two worlds.

      Either way, A123 Systems did not have any work on flow batteries. And even now, as B456, they do not.

      • Wiggletoes

        Flow batteries could be charged by the same auto charging systems as other EV of the same voltage until the service stations can be built and pumping liquids into a car at a filling station is a lot simpler than handling any gas but especially hydrogen. And re-charging the fluids at your local service station would be a lot simpler than transporting gasoline all around town.

        • Joe Viocoe

          What current flow battery is electrically rechargeable with decent power, efficiency and cycle life?

          An electrically rechargeable flow battery would indeed be a great innovation. But it isn’t a reality. Still in research phase and not even prototyped yet.
          G: a-battery-with-liquid-electrodes-can-be-recharged-or-refilled

          Current flow batteries that CAN be recharged electrically, only do so under conditions unsuitable for automotive applications (too slowly, too inefficient, and/or too few cycles).

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