Apple Hires Auto Industry Veterans

21 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Hires Auto Industry Veterans.

Doug Betts, who led global quality at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCAU -0.06 % NV until last year, is now working for the Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics giant but declined to comment on the position when reached Monday.

Apple Inc. has hired one of the auto industry’s veteran manufacturing executives, a signal that its efforts to develop an electric car could be gaining ground.Ex-Chrysler Group (FCHA.MI) government Doug Betts has joined IPhone-maker Apple Inc (AAPL.O), in line with the auto industry veteran’s LinkedIn profile. Betts’ account on the social networking web site for professionals stated he joined the Cupertino, California-based firm with the title of ‘Operations – Apple Inc’ in July. Betts’ LinkedIn profile says he joined Apple in July and describes his title as “Operations-Apple Inc.” with a location in the San Francisco Bay Area but no further specifics. Thought-leaders from the biggest brands and most disruptive companies will share winning growth strategies on the most pressing challenges marketing leaders face today.

It appears that Betts’ past roles have focused heavily on managing cross-functional teams related to auto production development and customer satisfaction. Per Betts’ LinkedIn regarding his former role at Chrysler: Responsibilities include: Quality Engineering, field issue problem solving and warranty management, manufacturing operations, proving grounds operations, supplier quality, technical service, product development process leadership. Apple design head Jony Ive and his team held meetings in February with automotive engineers and executives, some of whom Apple is trying to recruit, according to a report from Financial Times, which cites unnamed sources.

GOOG, -1.47% and other nontraditional auto companies in exploring ways to make systems for vehicles or build entire cars that increasingly rely on sophisticated software systems to operate. The WSJ report focuses heavily on the rumors of Apple firing up a car or vehicle project, hiring numerous employees away from Tesla, and others involved in the car industry. FT’s sources said Apple has gathered dozens of engineers — some grabbed from the company’s iPhone group — at a secret location off the Cupertino campus to research various car technologies with which Apple might play.

However, Betts’ LinkedIn specifies an operations role, so he could very well have been hired on to run quality for the supply chain on an existing product at Apple, something we hear is likely. Though Apple executives like Jeff Williams have referred to the car as ‘the ultimate mobile device’, the majority of the furor that it is looking to build an electric vehicle has come from reporting on hires. Car-sharing service Uber Technologies Inc. poached 40 researchers from a Carnegie Mellon University program that competed with a range of auto companies and tech companies. Apple earlier in the year settled a lawsuit filed by battery maker A123 Systems claiming the Cupertino company attempted to use A123 employees to start a battery operation. On a call with analysts in May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he hoped that Apple would get into the car business but noted that Tesla had recruited five times as many employees from Apple as Apple had poached from Tesla in the previous 12 months.

Earlier this year, Apple hired Paul Furgale a well-regarded autonomous vehicle researcher in Switzerland, and has begun recruiting other robotics and machine vision experts to work on a confidential project. For nearly two decades, he has worked in product quality and manufacturing at an auto company, first as a general manager at Toyota Motor Corp. and later as a vice president at Nissan Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, now FCA US LLC.

Betts to lead the company’s quality turnaround, giving him far-reaching authority over the company’s brands and even the final say on key production launches.

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