Apple has hired former BMW executive Ulrich Kranz to join its automotive team. Bloomberg confirmed the news on Thursday, noting he joined the tech giant in recent weeks. Kranz spent 30 years at BMW, eventually leading the team that developed the i3, the automaker’s first fully electric vehicle. After leaving BMW in 2017, Kranz went on to join Faraday Future, the same year the once much-hyped EV startup went on to run into serious financial trouble. After only four months, Kranz left Faraday to co-found Canoo, the company behind the upcoming $33,000 MPDV1 electric van. Incidentally, Apple reportedly entertained the idea of buying the startup in 2020.
Per Kranz’s LinkedIn, he left Canoo in April. Bloomberg suggests the hiring is a “clear sign” Apple plans to build a self-driving electric car. According to the outlet, Kranz’s boss is Doug Field, the former Tesla executive who led the automaker’s Model 3 development team. Rumors of Apple’s fabled Project Titan initiative have waxed and waned over the years. It’s believed Apple started working on an electric car sometime in 2014, only to reboot the project in 2016 after laying off “dozens” of employees. In 2019, the company laid off another 190 workers from the same team. In that time, the scope of the project has also changed multiple times. But even with this recent hiring, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says a product launch is at least five years away.