iCar Update: Daimler Boss Isn't Losing Sleep Over 'Titan' Project

Feb 26, 2015 05:00 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

Despite losing an important employee to Apple's "Titan" project, Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche isn't losing any sleep worrying about the iPhone-maker's rumored self-driving electric car.

While speaking to reporters at the launch of the new Mercedes-AMG C63 in Portugal on Tuesday, Zetsche dismissed the idea that an iCar could become a threat to established automakers. He said worrying about an iCar would be like Apple worrying about Mercedes making smartphones.

"If there were a rumor that Mercedes or Daimler planned to start building smartphones then (Apple) would not be sleepless at night. And the same applies to me," Zetsche told Motoring.com. "And this is full of respect for Apple. That is what I am saying."

Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, lost Johann Jungwirth to Apple earlier this month after working with the company since 1997.  Before running the Mercedes R&D lab, he was Mercedes' "VP of Connected Car, User Interaction & Telematics."

Jungwirth's official title is Director of Mac Systems Engineering at Apple, according to his Linkedin account, but his actually working on Apple's self-driving electric minivan project.

Even though he's not threatened by Apple, Zetsche said to reporters he thinks Apple building a car is not a good idea.

"I don't find any rationale. Why (Apple) with this kind of margin would now go into this business? I think investors will hate it because they don't like conglomerates, they want focused management on what they understand," Zetsche said at the Mercedes launch.

"I don't know their strategy and I do not know what they are doing, but I would be very surprised if that proved to be right," he added.

Former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson also had some advice for Apple last week, saying that Apple might be underestimating how hard it is to run a car business.

"They'd better think carefully if they want to get into the hard-core manufacturing," Akerson said of Apple during an interview with Bloomberg. "We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they're getting into if they get into that."

Rumors of Apple's electric car plans leaked last week after The Wall Street Journal reported plans on a secret project called "Titan." Apple supposedly has hired "hundreds" of new employees to work on the project in a secret lab near its Cupertino headquarters.

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