Apple hiring spree targets automotive experts, report claims

The company has reportedly established a secret off-site lab to research automotive products.

Apple has reportedly embarked on a hiring spree aimed at recruiting a team of experts with experience in the automotive industry.

The company has allegedly established a secret off-site lab -- in Silicon Valley but not at its primary Cupertino campus -- where the engineers and designers can explore automotive products under the leadership of senior Apple managers, unnamed sources have told The Financial Times.

The report has ignited a frenzy of speculation over the potential products Apple could be working on. Talk of an Apple car has been viewed with skepticism, however FT's source claims the company is looking for vehicle dynamics engineers.

Rival Google is believed to be stepping up its development efforts in the automotive industry, with the aim of deeply integrating the Android OS in next-generation infotainment systems. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay project the respective interfaces onto the infotainment screen, but the software is still primarily driven from a connected smartphone.

If Apple is following Google's lead, the company could be working on infotainment hardware. Another plausible rumor suggests engineers are working on connected-car features, such as remote unlock and vehicle start, that could use an iPhone instead of a traditional key.

A separate report points to a potential talent struggle between Apple and Tesla Motors, which already offers a way to start the Model S from a smartphone. Apple -- a company that has maintained a reputation as one of the most aggressive poachers in Silicon Valley -- has allegedly lost 150 employees to Tesla, according to Bloomberg. In return, Apple is reportedly offering Tesla employees $250,000 signing bonuses and 60-percent salary increases.

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