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Apple hires BMW veterans to drive new electric cars

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This photo, taken in March 2019, shows Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

felixmizioznikov | iStock editorial team | Getty Images

Apple has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former BMW executive who focused on electric cars, Apple confirmed to CNBC’s Phil LeBeau on Thursday.

The rental is the latest sign that Apple is serious about building an electric car to compete with automakers like Tesla.

Hyundai said earlier this year it was in talks with Apple to manufacture its car before withdrawing its comments and confirming it was no longer in discussions.

Apple has never confirmed it will build a car, but has hired automotive talent and tested self-driving software in California. In 2018, Apple hired Tesla’s Doug Field to work on Tesla’s Model 3. With its expertise in supply chains, battery technology, and user experience, Apple would be a major competitor to existing automakers if it ever brought a car to market. Apple’s car project has been restructured several times, most recently in early 2019.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Apple didn’t say whether Kranz will be working on Apple’s auto project called the Special Projects Group or SPG. But Kranz has extensive experience building teams that focus on electric cars.

Before joining Apple, Kranz co-founded Canoo, which is working on a self-driving electric car. At BMW, he led the company’s electric car development program, which, according to Bloomberg, who first reported on the rental, led to the i3 electric vehicle and a hybrid sports car called the i8.

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Katherine Clark