Volkswagen hires Apple executive for autonomous vehicle role

FILE PHOTO: Volkswagen logos are pictured during the media day of the Salao do Automovel International Auto Show in Sao Paulo, Brazil November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE said on Wednesday it had hired an executive from Apple AAPL.O as a director responsible for technical development at its commercial vehicles division.

Alexander Hitzinger, 47, will also take group-wide responsibility for VW’s efforts to develop self-driving vehicles as well as offer “Mobility as a Service”, an initiative that seeks to keep drivers behind the wheel of its cars even if they do not own them.

Hitzinger had been working on Apple’s electric car project, having earlier worked at Porsche, VW’s sports car division. Prior to that, the German-born engineer worked in Formula 1 racing at Red Bull Technology.

The appointment, which takes immediate effect, comes as VW seeks to meet the challenge from Silicon Valley tech companies that are working to develop fuel-efficient, self-driving cars.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Edward Taylor and Jane Merriman