Just because Apple chose to scale back on its self-driving car team does not mean that it is out of the game. If anything, it even made a conceivably significant hire as the tech giant has hired the Vice President of overseeing electric powertrains of Tesla, Michael Schwekutsch, as one its Senior Director of Engineering at the Special Project Group (a division that includes driverless vehicles and the Cupertino company’s Project Titan division), however, to no one’s surprise, there is no mention of what he is actually doing, but his experience notably speaks volumes.
Electrek noted that Schwekutsch brings with him extensive experience after leading the development of electric drivetrains, and not just at Tesla. He also played significant roles in the second-generation Roadster and the Semi, and he also contributed to the Porsche 918 Spyder, Fiat 500e, and the BMW i8, among other EVs and hybrids. He is believed to continue on that path at Apple, then.
This does not however necessarily mean that Apple is back to producing its fabled car. Apple is believed to be entering a partnership with VW on autonomous shuttles that would transport its employees between its offices. The hire may be concentrated on bringing that and any other shuttle work to fulfilment. Unusually, Schwekutsch would be a high-profile hire for a narrowly focused effort, though, and the timing of his hire, as he both left Tesla and joined Apple this month, suggests that he might have been poached. Whatever he is doing, Apple believes he is important.
Earlier this month, Elektrek described the departure of Schwekutsch from Tesla as a huge loss for the firm since he is considered to be amongst the most experienced engineers who have brought electric powertrain programs to market, not just at Tesla, but in the industry as a whole.