Apple's secret car team tosses keys to Lamborghini lead

Just what we expect from the iGiant: Reasonably affordable, low margin, mass market technology

Apple's poorly-kept-secret automobile project is reportedly getting an injection of exotic car know-how from a 20-year Lamborghini veteran.

The Cupertino biz has reportedly recruited Luigi Taraborrelli, most recently the head of chassis and vehicle dynamics R&D at Lamborghini, to lead design of its rumored self-driving electric vehicle. 

In Taraborrelli's years at Lamborghini, he was the head of several of the exotic car brand's research teams, first leading its simulation department before becoming general R&D project leader. He then took over as head of vehicle development and validation, before landing in his last job heading up chassis and vehicle dynamics until he left Lamborghini in May, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Taraborrelli has worked on Lamborghini vehicles including the Urus, Huracan, Aventador and a number of limited series vehicles and concepts. 

Neither Apple nor Taraborrelli has responded to our requests for comment, though it's worth mentioning the history of Taraborrelli's jobs at Lamborghini: his LinkedIn profile lists Lamborghini HQ in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy as his place of work, while his current location places him in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is Apple planning?

Apple's VP of technology, Kevin Lynch, was reportedly put in charge of Project Titan, Apple's automotive project, in September of last year when former project lead Doug Field left for a position at Ford Motor Company. Lynch has reportedly been instrumental in shifting Apple's automotive focus from a vehicle with limited self-driving capabilities to a fully self-driving one, and has also been behind the push to reveal the iCar by 2025. 

Because no one has confirmed Taraborrelli's hiring, it's unclear what his job on the team may be. Along with leading R&D for multiple Lamborghini projects, Taraborrelli's role as head of vehicle development and validation put him in charge, according to his description of the position on LinkedIn, "of the whole-vehicle team." 

The hiring of Taraborrelli comes not long after a Nikkei probe that suggested Apple's past 22 years of patent filings reveal an interest in automotive components that signal Apple is interested in designing a whole vehicle, as opposed to offering integration services like Google and other hardware makers.

Taraborrelli is hardly the only automotive-themed hire Apple has made recently. It has also reportedly hired people from Ford, Rivian, Tesla, BWM, Mercedes and other brands, Bloomberg said. 

In 2019, Apple also bought autonomous vehicle company Drive.ai and folded its people into Project Titan, and it's recently been mulling an acquisition of EV startup Canoo, which said in May it was on the verge of running out of cash. A former Canoo CEO, Ulrich Kranz, also joined Apple's car project in 2021.

Taraborrelli may have a ready role at Apple, even without his hiring being confirmed. Part of his former job responsibilities at Lamborghini included developing "secrecy rules for prototype testing activities," something the Project Titan team may want to think about. ®

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