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Apple just hired a Tesla designer. Let the speculation begin.

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Apple gained a designer, perhaps for its self-driving car project.
Apple gained a designer, perhaps for its self-driving car project.

Image: NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images

The hiring of a former Tesla designer has reignited speculation over Apple’s self-driving car ambitions. 

Andrew Kim was hired by Microsoft after his minimalist redesign for the company went viral in 2013. He then spent two years as a senior design manager at Tesla. Now it looks like he’s at Apple. 

Apple doesn’t share much about its car program. But a patent filing from August shows an augmented reality windshield concept. And the California Department of Motor Vehicles lists Apple as an autonomous car permit holder.

As the Verge spotted, Kim now has the Apple icon on his LinkedIn page, with a start date of December. His Instagram also slyly included a gray Apple icon with the caption “Day 1” last week. 

His personal website still lists his visual and product designer job at Tesla, but his barely active Twitter is up to date.

Kim’s Tesla background could mean a number of things for Apple, not just car stuff. Its self-driving car ambitions have reportedly stalled out into a more self-contained on-campus shuttle. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported a partnership with Volkswagen for self-driving campus shuttles at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Apple appears to have shifted from building its own self-driving fleet to the software side of things — for now.

As the NYT noted, “Apple has a history of tinkering with a technology until its engineers figure out what to do with it.” 

Kim could simply be working on Apple’s shuttle project and other more established products. Or maybe Apple is finally going all in on self-driving cars. 

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