Attendees watch the Archer Aviation Maker unveiling on June 10, 2021 in Hawthorne, Calif.
Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images
Michael Schwekutsch, director of engineering at Apple Special Projects group that is said to work on self-driving cars, has left electric air taxi start-up Archer as senior vice president of engineering. Schwekutsch noted the change on his LinkedIn page on Wednesday.
The move is the latest example of staff turnover in Apple’s secret car project. Former vice president of special projects Doug Field left in September to lead Ford’s emerging technology efforts, a priority for the historic automaker as part of its new Ford + turnaround plan.
The move also indicates that tech start-ups that tackle climate issues can attract the most skilled engineers. Former Vice President of Engineering at Tesla, Schwekutsch holds over 100 patents related to vehicle design, has worked on prototypes for Tesla Plaid systems and has led the production of electric drive systems for several vehicle models. from Tesla, Porsche, BMW and others, according to his CV online.
Archer works on electric air taxis that take off and land vertically. Like its competitors Lilium and Joby Aviation, Archer aims to carry passengers on short trips, avoiding ground traffic as well as the noise and emissions generated by traditional fuel-powered planes and cars.
She has already developed a model known as the Maker that can carry a passenger and a pilot, and is working on a four-passenger model. The company aims to operate urban air mobility services from Los Angeles once its planes have been licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial use.
Founded in 2018 and based in Palo Alto, Calif., Archer went public in September after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Atlas Crest Investment Corp.
Archer previously reported that United Airlines not only invested in its business, but also placed an order for $ 1 billion of its fully electric planes with the option to purchase an additional $ 500 million over time.
Commercial passenger aviation generated 785 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019, according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association predicts that air passenger numbers will return to more than 85% of pre-pandemic levels next year and exceed pre-pandemic levels by 5% in 2023.
Apple’s EV threat
Apple has never acknowledged that he was working on a car, but several media outlets since 2014 have tracked his progress, he has a driverless vehicle test license in California and CEO Tim Cook indirectly mentioned the interest. of the company.
Either way, the threat from the well-capitalized tech titan of introducing a driverless electric car has alerted auto and tech investors.
In a note released Wednesday, Morgan Stanley stock analysts Katy L. Huberty and Adam Jonas explained what an Apple car could look like, when it could be launched, and how that would affect Tesla and the wider EV market. drums.
Jonas wrote: “One of the things that we think drives Elon Musk and Tesla’s mission is not ‘can we make a better electric vehicle than Volkswagen’ or something like that.” Instead, he said, Tesla is motivated to gain every competitive advantage possible before Apple makes its entrance. “This fear of Apple potentially turning Tesla into a BlackBerry is one of the things that we believe drives Tesla and its mission,” he said.
Apple, Archer and Schwekutsch did not immediately respond to requests for comment.