Tesla VP Chris Porritt Recently Joined Apple's 'Special Projects' Group

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple hired former Tesla Motors Vice President of Vehicle Engineering Chris Porritt last year to join its "special projects" group, possibly to spearhead its much-rumored electric vehicle project, according to Electrek.

    Chris Porritt and the Aston Martin One-77 supercar

    Porritt brings decades of experience in the European automotive industry with him to Apple, having worked on vehicle dynamics as a principal engineer at Land Rover between 1987 and 1997 before serving as chief engineer at Aston Martin until 2013.

    During his tenure at Aston Martin, Porritt played a significant role in designing the One-77 supercar, while he also led teams that worked on the similarly luxurious DB9 and V12 Vantage. He left the automaker to join Tesla three years ago.

    At Tesla, Porritt reportedly worked on the Model S and Model X, in addition to the chassis of the recently-announced Model 3.

    Porritt's role at Apple is unsurprisingly secretive, having been assigned the vague title of "Special Projects Group PD Administrator," but his automotive expertise suggests that he could have a senior role within the "Project Titan" team that is widely rumored to be working on the so-called "Apple Car" project.

    Following the recent news that alleged "Apple Car" project lead Steve Zadesky would be leaving Apple for personal reasons, Porritt's seniority would make him a strong candidate for a leadership role within the company's secretive automotive team. At least a few Apple engineers are already reporting to him internally, according to the report.
    It is publicly known that Apple and Tesla have been fighting over top employees, and recruiting talent away from each other's respective companies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk once called Apple the "Tesla Graveyard" where fired Tesla employees go to work. Musk has also referred to the "Apple Car" as an "open secret."


    Apple's purported automotive team is believed to include hundreds of employees that previously worked at A123 Systems, Autoliv, Concept Systems, Ford, General Motors, General Dynamics, Land Rover, Tesla Motors, Texas Instruments, and elsewhere. Apple Car R&D could be finalized in time for a 2019 or 2020 launch.

    Article Link: Tesla VP Chris Porritt Recently Joined Apple's 'Special Projects' Group
  2. Dilster3k macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2014
    After discussing with other experts in the field, I've concluded that he joined Apple
    to work on new Apple Watch straps.
  3. smacrumon, Apr 19, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016

    smacrumon macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    The Tesla influence can only be a good thing for Apple. Things are looking up!
  4. jayducharme macrumors 68040


    Jun 22, 2006
    The thick of it
    Contrary to what Musk has said, it doesn't sound like Porritt is someone who would have been fired from Tesla, nor does it sound like his presence at Apple constitutes a "graveyard".
  5. Amacfa macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    Looks like big score for Apple. All the cars he worked on look stellar.
  6. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    I wonder if Apple plans on showing anything at all before people start configuring/committing to their Tesla Model 3's. If Apple is quick, people who have Model 3 deposits can still get them refunded and swap to Apple. That's what GM is banking on with the Bolt (but there's little evidence that anyone is actually doing that.) If the Model 3 remains on schedule, Tesla will start asking people to configure their cars and make the full payment in ~15 months.

    It seems to me that a large amount of the people who would be interested in an Apple Car if they knew anything about it will instead be purchasing the Tesla Model 3 and so be set for 5-10 years on the car front if Apple fails to say anything before then.

    Unless Apple is planning on doing some kind of car share program, where people don't need to make large commitments. But that would be very unique for Apple... up until Apple Music they always had the stance that people prefer to own things.
  7. LordQ Suspended


    Sep 22, 2012
  8. Xavier macrumors 68030

    Mar 23, 2006
    One can hope that the Apple Car looks something like an Aston Martin!
  9. Studioman macrumors regular


    Jun 17, 2015
    Most buyers trade their cars every 3 years or so anyway. Having worked for 12 years in automotive sales I can say most people never pay their car off. There are those who keep them until they die, but most do not.
  10. agsystems macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2013
    Agree...while everything remains a rumor, it would be weird to hire someone with these credentials and then not release a car - what's the point?
  11. Jakexb macrumors 6502a

    Mar 18, 2014
    Aston Martin! Jony's favorite car: http://www.cultofmac.com/254380/jony-ives-cars/
    He likes it so much he bought a new one after he crashed his first one.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 19, 2016 ---
    Also a fun bit of info from that article:

    As well as being fast and powerful, Aston Martins are known for their innovative production methods. Their cars are built from unusual, lightweight materials like aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber. The all-aluminum chassis is glued together rather than welded, which makes it incredibly strong and resistant to cracking. Jony would soon introduce similar production methods to Apple’s manufacturing arsenal.​
  12. Keane16 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 8, 2007
    Looks like a man with mighty fine taste. Some beautiful cars he's worked on.

    Project Titan is the most excited I've been for an Apple rumour since the "Apple Phone".

    I hope I can look back in 25 years and view the original Teslas like I think of the early cell phones. Much better in theory than the landlines they replaced, but still lacking. I'd like to see Apple build on the work Tesla, GM, Toyota etc. have done and come up with something I really want to own. Much like the iPhone built on the work Palm, Blackberry, Synbian and the rest did.
  13. 8281 macrumors 6502

    Dec 15, 2010

    I thought the average was five. Three years seems so short if you purchase a car. I pay my cars off ASAP so I'm not paying interest.
  14. v0lume4 macrumors 68000


    Jul 28, 2012
    No Apple car will ever amount to the beauty that is the One-77 in that picture.
  15. Sill macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2014
    Well thanks for settling that for us.

    We can all go home now.
  16. gaximus macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2011
    Thats what a came to say, that thing is beautiful
  17. wlossw macrumors 65816


    May 9, 2012
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  18. nt5672 macrumors 68000

    Jun 30, 2007
    You do not become a VP without some form of non-compete. The question should be asked is he really working on a car, as part of a joint venture, or something else.
  19. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    Your analogy is off.

    The Roadster is analogous to the original iPhone.
    The Model S is analogous to the iPhone 3G.
    The Model 3 is analogous to the iPhone 3GS.

    The iPhone was successful because it turned the entire industry on its head. Tesla's cars are doing the same thing. The iPhone didn't do some stuff a little better than the phones before it - it did everything a lot better than the phones before it.

    Phones before the iPhone sucked at texting and email. They sucked at playing music. They sucked at giving you directions. They sucked at taking pictures. They sucked at browsing the internet.

    The only thing phones before the iPhone didn't completely suck at was calling people, and even then, they weren't very good at it.

    The iPhone did all of that amazingly well.

    What is an Apple Car going to do better than Tesla's Model 3?

    Tesla has already upended the entire industry:
    No more pointless controls and widgets.
    No more dealers.
    No more range anxiety.
    No more dealing with parking.
    No more dealing with the highway or traffic.
    Far more reliable.

    Apple has a few ways they can beat Tesla.
    - Scale quicker (If Apple commits all of their resources to it, they could build 40 factories in 3 years and start pumping out 20M cars per year. Tesla just doesn't have the kind of money Apple does. I can imagine them being able to secure the loans to build 4-5 factories by 2019, allowing them to produce around 2M cars/year. Apple's fortunes have been built up over 2 decades... I think Tesla is going to take at least 1 decade to approach the scale that Apple could in 3 years.)
    - Deploy sooner (unless Tesla slips up, this isn't going to happen).
    - Self driving sooner (again, unless Tesla slips up, this isn't going to happen).

    If Apple beats Tesla... I don't think it's going to be because they have a superior product, but because they're a bigger company.
  20. lionsy macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2010
    England, UK
    So the only people that join Apple are the people that couldn't make it at Tesla, huh? Sure did take them a long time to realise he couldn't make it there, he was a Vice President!
  21. apolloa macrumors G4

    Oct 21, 2008
    Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
    OK, if they have got a guy who's history includes Aston Martin, probably explains why the Tesla's look cool, then I am pretty sure what ever it is Apple produce will look cool as feck.

    I am a huge fan of Aston Martin's, one day maybe I'll buy one but it would have to an old high miler like a DB9 haha. And it would still cost as much as a new family hatchback.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 19, 2016 ---
    Is that what you really think? I suppose the notion that Apple could have waved a HUGE pay rise under his nose, plus benefits plus the attractiveness of working for one of the world's most famous brands wouldn't have anything to do with it huh?
  22. jonnysods macrumors 603


    Sep 20, 2006
    There & Back Again
  23. Jeremy1026 macrumors 68020


    Nov 3, 2007
    I guess the car project hiring freeze is over.
  24. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    Currently, 6.5 years is the average new car hold in the U.S., and that number has steadily increased in recent years. As more and more Americans are introduced to the concept of not making car payments for life, it might become increasing difficult for the manufacturers to sell people on the idea of trading in every 2-3 years. If Apple is planning on entering this market they should be prepared for very tough sledding.

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