Former Tesla, Aston Martin Executive Joins Apple ‘Special Projects’ Team

Posted by at 11:00 am on April 19, 2016

Porritt racing an Aston Martin

While lower-level swaps of employees between Tesla and Apple are not uncommon, it is rare that a senior executive from the popular electric automaker jumps ship to join Apple. In the wake of reports that the alleged former head of the mysterious Apple automobile project, Steve Zadesky, left Apple earlier this year, the iPhone maker may have recently lined up his replacement for what is sometimes referred to as “Project Titan:” former Tesla Vice President of Vehicle Engineering (and also form Aston Martin chief engineer) Chris Porritt, who appears to have joined Apple to work on “special projects.”
Speculators differ on the exact nature of the Apple automotive project, thought the company has confirmed that it is exploring a greater role in that industry. Some believe Apple is attempting to build its own car from scratch — a decade-long process that may have begun some years ago, but isn’t expected to see any light until 2020 — while others believe a more viable option: that Apple is secretly working with an established car maker on a new design that builds on an established electric vehicle to bring more Apple-level technology to enhance the overall experience. Others say Apple is only building a more-integrated and advanced version of CarPlay, potentially one that includes self-driving features, that could be licensed to a number of car manufacturers.

Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed rumors of the project at the company’s recent shareholder meeting in February, saying that he is sitting on a secret project where the details won’t be shareable for quite some time, comparing it to a child’s wait for Christmas morning to arrive. Cook himself, commenting on the fact that Apple has undeniably hired dozens, if not scores, of engineers and executives with automotive and electric-vehicle backgrounds, said that Apple is “exploring” the possibility of going beyond its existing CarPlay technology, but noted that hiring staff is just the first step in the commitment to an up to decade-long project, as building its own car would be, and that more sure signs are the creation of special parts sourced from other companies, and factory manufacturing licensing and commitments — neither of which has happened.

It is not yet confirmed that Zadesky has left the company, or that Porritt is his replacement, but Porritt has a long history in the car manufacturing business, and would undoubtedly be an executive at Apple: he began his career as an intern at Land Rover, rising to Principle Engineer in Vehicle Dynamics in 1997 after 10 years with the company. He as then Chief Engineer on the Aston Martin car until 2013, when he joined Tesla as Vice President of Vehicle Engineering. Apple’s design chief, Sir Jonathan Ive, is a collector of Aston Martin vehic

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