Electric battery manufacturer, A123 Systems, has accused Apple of poaching their top engineers as well as other from companies such as Tesla, supporting rumours that they may be developing an electric car.
According to A123’s lawsuit, “Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123,”. A123 claims that Apple started aggressively poaching engineers in June 2014; many employees then crossed over to Apple to work on similar programs, which A123 says was in violation of their employment agreements. this has lead to A123 filing a lawsuit against five previous employees.
A123 Systems is an industrial lithium-ion battery manufacturer, supported by a $249m US government grant. In 2012 it filed for bankruptcy and has been selling off assets since.
A123 are arguing that without their top engineers many projects had to be abandoned. They also accused one former employee, Mujeeb Ijaz, of helping Apple with the recruitment process.
“It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high-tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123,” according to the lawsuit.
“They are doing so in an effort to support Apple’s apparent plans to establish a battery division that is similar if not identical to A123’s, in competition with A123.”
It may or may not be true that Apple are interested in making an electric car. Although the evidence so far would certainly seem to support the theory that they are.
Looking at LinkedIn, it shows that Apple has been rapidly employing hundreds of automotive engineers and experts. They now have over 60 ex-Tesla employees on their books, as well as those who crossed over from A123.
There is a good chance that they could just be developing their in-car applications but considering the range in expertise and sheer number of automotive professionals on board it’s hard to completely rule out the iCar rumours.