Apple loses a top vehicle engineer to flying-taxi startup Archer Aviation

Michael Schwekutsch has left Apple’s “Project Titan” electric vehicle project for Archer Aviation after two years with the Cupertino Colossus.

Apple Car as per Richard Scarry
Apple Car as per Richard Scarry

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:

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.

Lora Kolodny for CNBC:

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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  1. Can’t wait for Apple’s ground based flying car that can also transform into a space ship, just like in Fast and Furious 9 where two of the characters also went into space – the final frontier.

  2. Quiz: What Apple development program hired the most qualified, patent rich, highly paid employees to see them leave for greener pastures in a few short years? The list is long and growing and we all know the answer.

    “In 2014, Apple began working on “Project Titan,” with upwards of 1,000 car experts and engineers developing an electric vehicle at a secret location near the company’s Cupertino headquarters.”

    I can only speculate the snails pace the program has been proceeding with woke Cook team meetings management style agitates the best and brightest employees that know their sh*t and just want to ‘git er done.

    Guessing Cook won’t change, same as the Project Titan talent exodus…

    1. Spot on. Lack of vision, slow bureaucracy, stiff culture. These are my impressions of Project Titan when talent that once enthusiastically jumped to Apple is now jumping to other firms. I speculate it isn’t money they are following. They want to be apart of something that inspires them. This isn’t happening at Apple.

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