Tesla Engineer Defectors Join Apple’s Car Team

Apple is getting serious about its electric car program. The company recently “hired” a senior engineer from electric car pioneer Tesla Motors … another step in Apple’s commitment to build a team and a program focused on automated driving. Engineer Jamie Carlson posted on his LinkedIn profile that he has exited Tesla in favor of Apple, one of seven professionals with “self-driving tech” experience to join Apple in recent weeks.

Apple is not commenting – which is nothing new – and neither are the workers. But it’s safe to assume when seven high-profile professionals with a single skill in common go to work for a company who is obviously building toward something, that the something is connected with the skillset.

Sources have admitted Apple is in the process of developing and studying self-driving technology. But no one has yet admitted the company is actually in the process of developing a self-driving vehicle. A small distinction, perhaps, but one of great significance in the marketplace. Even if Apple is not designing the actual vehicle, they could be developing technology specifically for that sort of car. In fact, the “defection” of so many engineers may simply be a secret deal between automakers and Apple to work together to make driverless cars a retail reality much sooner.

Regardless, each time Apple hires another high-profile self-driving engineer, it makes the news, giving the company – which, again, has said nothing about any of this – a headline month after month. That sort of sly public relations campaign is part and parcel of Apple’s consumer relations strategy. They go about making decisions that get people all excited and speculative. They say nothing and hint at nothing, but keep making public moves that get people talking. The less information they share, the more people seem to want to talk about what Apple refuses to discuss.

So, what about you? Does this pique your curiosity? Are you betting Apple is building a driverless car or are they working on some aspect of the technology they will sell when everyone else wants one? What’s your take?

Ronn Torossian is a NY based Public Relations Executive. Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR; a Top 20 PR Firm based in NYC with offices in Los Angeles and Denver.

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