Volkswagen has successfully hired former Apple executive Alexander Hitzinger to help lead self-driving technology development. His larger role is direct responsibility for technical development for commercial vehicles, and he will also lead the company's Mobility as a Service initiative, which imagines a future in which people will simply ride in cars rather than own them.
Project Titan was Apple's self-driving electric-car project and was disbanded years ago after engineers tried to pull the project in numerous directions and Apple's do-it-all approach didn't fit well with a physical car. Today, Apple's plans in a revived Project Titan team reportedly surround self-driving car software, not a physical car.
Yet, several recent patents and the addition of a Tesla designer seem to hint Apple still toys with the idea of a physical car.
Volkswagen and Apple are no strangers to one another, either. The two reportedly forged a deal this past May to use VW commercial vans for Apple's future self-driving service.
Before Hitzinger's time at Apple, the 47-year old who was born in Germany was no stranger to the VW Group. He previously worked for Porsche and his resume includes time with Formula 1 racing at Red Bull Technology.
Volkswagen Group Sedric concept, 2017 Geneva auto show
VW has admitted it's likely two years behind other rivals when it comes to self-driving vehicle technology. The automaker reportedly tried to purchase startup Aurora to jump-start its autonomous car program, though the company declined an offer. VW and Aurora still operate a partnership, though the tech company has cozied up to numerous other automakers, not just VW.
Despite delays, VW said it plans to introduce its first self-driving car for the road in 2021. The automaker previewed the vehicle with its Sedric self-driving car concept at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Cedric sports Level 5 capability, which requires no human on-board to take the controls in case of an emergency. The Sedric concept does not include a steering wheel or pedals.