Apple hires former Porsche racing engineer, report says

It's a strange hire if Apple really did abandon its plans for a proper vehicle.

Porsche

Nobody really knows what the hell is going on with Apple and cars. There are reports that it has abandoned building an actual car in favor of a system for cars, but a new hire with roots in motorsport muddies the water even further.

Apple has allegedly hired Alexander Hitzinger, the former head of Porsche's Le Mans prototype efforts, Reuters reports, citing Germany's Manager Magazin.

Manager Magazin's interview with Hitzinger didn't confirm his position at Apple, either. He told the magazine he left Porsche to do something "which has a significant and direct impact on society," but he didn't say the company to which he moved. His LinkedIn says he went to a "technology company" in the San Francisco Bay Area in an executive position.

Maybe Apple is building a Le Mans prototype. Probably not, though that would be pretty sweet.

Porsche

Porsche confirmed Hitzinger's springtime departure from the company, but Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hitzinger's baby was the 919, a hybrid Le Mans prototype racer. Porsche won both the driver's and constructor's championships during the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season. The 919 also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans that same year.

In October, Bloomberg reported that Apple had scaled back its automotive plans amid a series of Project Titan layoffs, going from building a complete car to developing a system that could be used in future self-driving vehicles. In November, Apple sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, claiming that the tech titan was "excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation."

Apple has never gone on record saying it's working in the automotive field. But wanting to work with the NHTSA to help lay out a series of industry best practices sure does sound like Apple has something up its sleeve. Until we're allowed to start waterboarding executives, the public probably won't know what Apple's plans are until it's ready to unveil them.

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