Apple has hired the technical director for Porche’s racing division, for its secret car project, according to a new report. Alexander Hitzinger, who left Porsche in March, has allegedly moved to Apple, according to German news publication Manager Magazin, who first broke the story. Hitzinger’s LinkedIn profile seems to confirm that he has moved to a San Francisco-based “technology company” in April.
During his time at Porsche, Hitzinger helped the German car company return to the endurance racing scene, and was instrumental in developing the 919 hybrid sports car, according to Fortune. He reportedly left Porsche because he wanted to do something that has “a significant and direct impact on society,” according to Manager Magazin. In the article, he did not directly confirm that he was working at Apple. Similarly, Cupertino has yet to confirm his employment at the company.
There has been a lot of confusion as to the true nature of Apple’s secret car program, known as Project Titan. At one point, the division was reportedly staffed by over 1,000 engineers and auto specialists, but the project has hit several roadblocks in its growth. Earlier this year, the division’s head resigned due to “personal reasons.” In October, the company reportedly laid off several dozen employees, and shifted the project’s focus from creating an actual car to developing the underlying software and technology for a self-driving electric vehicle. An October report alleged that Apple is testing AR-based navigation and other self-driving vehicle systems.
Hitzinger’s hiring only seems to add more confusion as to Project Titan’s direction — a program which Apple has never publicly confirmed the existence of.
In November, Apple sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that said it was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” according to Roadshow. Additionally, the company asked regulators earlier this month not to impose unnecessary restrictions on self-driving car developers, Reuters reported.
Apple also reportedly met with auto manufacturer McClaren earlier this year to discuss a purchase deal — although the acquisition never got to the bidding stage.