Ulrich Kranz, a former BMW executive and recently deceased CEO and co-founder of startup EV Canoo, has been hired by Apple, the company confirmed to The edge. Crown wants would have work on the Silicon Valley giant’s electric car under the direction of Doug Field, the former Tesla executive who heads the day-to-day operations of the project, codenamed “Project Titan.” News of Kranz joining Apple was first reported by Bloomberg.
Kranz was one of the executives who helped launch BMW’s all-electric i3 sports car and i8 hybrid sports car. Shortly after leaving the German automaker at the end of 2016, he and his fellow BMW manager Stefan Krause were approached. to help turn around struggling electric vehicle start-up Faraday Future. However, the couple clashed with the founder of Faraday Future and in late 2017 they left and formed what eventually became Canoo.
Kranz, Krause and a handful of other expats from BMW and other mainstream automakers offered an all-electric van that they planned to sell on subscription only, which they revealed in 2019. The van was designed around of a compact, modular platform that included the battery, electric motors and essentially all of the vehicle’s electronic components, which Canoo hoped to sell or license to other manufacturers.
Canoo’s EV platform pitch was compelling enough that Apple had talks with the startup in early 2020 because The edge exclusively reported earlier this year. Talks between the two companies ultimately collapsed, as Canoo preferred to take an investment, while Apple was interested in an acquisition. Canoo also had an agreement with Hyundai to build vehicles based on the platform, but the startup has since has moved away from this agreement.
Kranz is now at the top of a very large team within Apple working on an electric and autonomous vehicle. Apple kicked off the project in 2014, but it has undergone several revisions, with the company at one point focusing only on developing stand-alone technology. But over the past year, Apple has came back to trying to develop a vehicle and would have had talks with several car manufacturers as well as with battery companies like CATL in China.
Kranz was just one of many senior executives who left Canoo over the past year. Krause, who was Canoo’s first CEO, left last year. Canoo’s CFO and his chief lawyer also left this year following the startup’s merger with an ad hoc acquisition company, or SPAC. Five of the original nine co-founders remain with the company, while those who have left have been replaced by people close to the company’s new CEO, Tony Aquila, who took over after Canoo’s IPO following the SPAC merger.
Aquila has since turned Canoo away from the idea of the subscription model and instead focuses on building commercial electric vehicles for small businesses. Aquila detailed the changes he was making to the company during Canoo’s first call with investors as a public company in March. Krause was not on that call, although he was still CEO at the time. As The edge first reported late last year, Kranz’s contract with Canoo was renegotiated as part of the SPAC merger.