Apple hires BMW veteran in latest sign of electric car push

This photo, taken in March 2019, shows Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

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Apple hired Ulrich Kranz, a former top BMW executive who focused on electric cars, Apple confirmed to CNBC’s Phil LeBeau on Thursday.

The rent is the latest sign that Apple is serious about building an electric car to compete with automakers like Tesla.

Hyundai said earlier this year that it was in talks with Apple to build its car before withdrawing its comments and confirming that it was no longer in talks.

Apple has never confirmed that it is making a car, but it hired talent from the auto industry and tested autonomous driving software in California. In 2018, Apple hired Tesla’s Doug Field, who worked on the Tesla Model 3. With its expertise in supply chains, battery technology, and user experience, Apple would represent a significant competitor to existing automakers if it ever launches a car. Apple’s car project has been restructured several times, most recently in early 2019.

Apple did not say whether Kranz will work on Apple’s car project, which is called the Special Projects Group or SPG. But Kranz has extensive experience in creating teams focused on electric cars.

Before joining Apple, Kranz was a co-founder of Canoo, which is working on an autonomous electric car. At BMW, he led the company’s electric car development program, which resulted in the i3 electric vehicle and a hybrid sports car called the i8, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the rental.

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