The move signifies that Apple is stepping up its efforts in rolling out its first car that will be electric fully autonomous. This comes after years of chasing this project and number of setbacks, including the company dropping the plan altogether in 2016. With his experience, Taraborrelli becomes one of the most senior managers on Apple’s EV team and brings some exotic-car panache to the effort.
He has worked on a number of Lamborghini models such as the Urus, Huracan, and Aventador, along with more limited models like the Huracan Sterrato off-road vehicle and Asterion concept car.
This is not the first top management personnel to be roped in for the Apple car project. Earlier this year, Apple tapped a 31-year veteran of Ford Motor Co. to lead its vehicle-safety efforts. Last year, it hired Ulrich Kranz, the former chief of struggling electric-car maker Canoo Inc. and former leader of BMW’s electric-car business. Before that, Apple enlisted former Tesla Inc. Autopilot chief Stuart Bowers to work on self-driving technology.
The Apple project includes hundreds of former engineers from Tesla and other car companies, including Rivian Automotive Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, Volvo Car AB, and Mercedes-Benz Group AG. It also has former senior design executives on staff from Tesla, McLaren, Porsche, and Aston Martin.
Apple and Lamborghini have some history together. In 2020, the carmaker released an Apple-based augmented reality feature to help people preview the Huracan EVO RWD Spyder. At the time, Apple’s head of marketing said the company “cares deeply” about Lamborghini.
Apple’s first car: What to expect
The car will let occupants face each other in a limousine-like interior, reports Bloomberg. Apple is working towards a car with a steering wheel and pedals, relying solely on fully autonomous technology. A fully self-driving vehicle, however, may not be a feasible idea on the company’s current schedule, some team members and industry watchers opine.
The Apple car will allegedly come with a high-powered chip which will be the most advanced component designed by Apple to date. It has neural processors so as to handle massive AI loads for an autonomous vehicle. The same company that manufactures chips for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, TSMC is expected to also produce the chip for the Apple car.
While Apple has a long history of technological products and gadgets, it has no experience with automobile manufacturing. Hence, the company is seeking partnerships in the automobile industry. In January 2021, there were reports relating to Apple being in talks with Hyundai to jointly develop and produce self-driving electric cars.
In December 2020, Reuters reported that Apple was planning on a possible launch date of 2024, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed it would not be launched before 2025 and might not be launched until 2028 or later.