Apple poaching auto engineers to build battery division to develop electric car

Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems has sued Apple Inc for poaching top engineers to build a large-scale battery division, according to a court filing that offered further evidence that the iPhone maker may be developing a car.

Apple has been poaching engineers with deep expertise in car systems, including from Tesla Inc, and talking with industry experts and automakers with the ultimate aim of learning how to make its own electric car, an auto industry source said last week.

Around June 2014, Apple began aggressively poaching A123 engineers tasked with leading some of the company’s most critical projects, the lawsuit said.

The engineers jumped ship to pursue similar programs at Apple, in violation of their employment agreements, A123 said in a filing earlier this month in Massachusetts federal court. “Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123,” the lawsuit read. The suit was reported earlier by legal

Neither Apple nor A123 immediately responded to requests for comment.

A123 Systems is a pioneering industrial lithium-ion battery maker, which was backed by a $249 million US government grant. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and has been selling off assets.

Lithium-ion is a battery technology that can be used in applications from computers to airplanes, but A123 specializes in big batteries that can be used in big machines, including cars. A123 did not say what the engineers specifically worked on.

It said in its lawsuit that the engineers who left were of such caliber that the projects they had been working on had to be abandoned after their departures. It also accused one of the five defendants, Mujeeb Ijaz, of helping Apple recruit among its ranks.

Posted by on February 19, 2015. Filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.