Michael Schwekutsch has left Apple’s “Project Titan” electric vehicle project for Archer Aviation after two years with the Cupertino Colossus.
Michael Schwekutsch, who joined the Apple car project in 2019, has become a senior vice president of engineering at Archer Aviation Inc., which is focused on building flying taxis. The startup confirmed the move on Wednesday, saying he came aboard last month.
At Apple, Schwekutsch helped oversee the hardware work for the company’s planned self-driving car. His departure comes as the Cupertino, California-based technology giant tries to accelerate development of the project under new management: Apple Watch software chief Kevin Lynch.
A former VP of engineering at Tesla, Schwekutsch holds more than 100 patents related to vehicle design, worked on prototypes for the Tesla Plaid systems, and led production of electric drive systems for several vehicle models from Tesla, Porsche, BMW and others, according to his online resume.
Archer is working on electric-powered air taxis that take off and land vertically. Like competitors Lilium and Joby Aviation, Archer aims to transport passengers on short trips, avoiding traffic on the ground and the noise and emissions generated by traditional fuel-burning aircraft and cars.
In a note out Wednesday, Morgan Stanley equity analysts Katy L. Huberty and Adam Jonas talked about how an Apple car might look, when it might launch, and how it would effect Tesla and the broader battery electric vehicle market.
Jonas wrote, “One of the things that we think drives Elon Musk and the Tesla’s mission isn’t ‘can we make a better EV than Volkswagen’ or something.” Instead, he said, Tesla is motivated to gain every competitive advantage it can before Apple makes its move. “That fear of Apple potentially turning Tesla into a BlackBerry is one of the things that we think is motivating Tesla and their mission,” he said.
MacDailyNews Take: Tesla has something that BlackBerry didn’t: a leader who can adapt to change and who’s well-versed in a range of technologies and industries. There’s plenty of room for Tesla, and many others, along with Apple in the future automotive market.
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