Volkswagen has hired former Apple executive Alexander Hitzinger to lead technical development at its commercial vehicles division, which includes responsibility for the development of self-driving cars and the automaker's mobility services.
Reuters reported on the hiring on Wednesday and said Hitzinger was formerly part of Apple's Project Titan electric car project. It's understood Apple previously had a vehicle project in the works, but the initiative eventually disbanded after lack of clarity over a final goal.
However, various patents and Apple's own hirings have led some to speculate the company may still have eyes on a physical car.
Even Hitzinger is familiar with VW. Before joined Apple, he worked at VW's Porsche subsidiary.
VW has tried to play catch up in a segment full of newcomers and established names including Google's Waymo and General Motors' Cruise Automation. VW reportedly tried to purchase Aurora to make up for lost ground in the space, but the startup declined the automaker's offer. The two currently have a partnership to develop self-driving technology, though it's not exclusive. Aurora also works with numerous other automakers.
Hitzinger's appointment is effective immediately and we'll surely hear more from him as we approach VW's timeframe for an autonomous vehicle.