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Apple poaching electric vehicle engineers contributed to Mission Motorcycles’ bankruptcy says CEO

Mission-R-bikeSan Francisco-based Mission Motorcycles, a maker of high-end electric motorcycles, recently filed for bankruptcy amid financial troubles. In the filing, current CEO Mark Seeger said the company is so low on cash that it can’t afford to pay for an attorney for the bankruptcy process, but while recently talking with Reuters, former CEO Derek Kaufman dismissed the company’s lack of money and instead blamed Mission’s demise on Apple’s poaching of top engineers. Rumors are all but confirmed that Apple has been developing its own electric vehicle under Project Titan and Kaufman wouldn’t be the first person deploring Apple’s hiring efforts for the project. Battery maker A123 Systems filed a lawsuit against Apple earlier this year for poaching five of its engineers and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has often commented on the Cupertino company trying to hire automotive engineers from Tesla.

In the case of Mission, Kaufman said Apple hired two key engineers from his team as the company was trying to close a round of funding. After the engineers left for Apple, the investors backed out and consequently more employees left.

According to Reuters, Apple hired Nancy Sun, Mission’s vice president of electrical engineering, Mark Sherwood, director of power train systems engineering, and Eyal Cohen, vice president of software and electrical engineering.

Kaufman said:

“Mission had a great group of engineers, specifically electric drive expertise. Apple knew that – they wanted it, and they went and got it.”

Following Mission’s financial troubles, other employees joined Tesla and Harley-Davidson, the company had previously worked with the later on their electric motorcycle project: LiveWire.

Before stopping their operations, Mission was working on two motorcycles: Mission RS, a racing bike. and Mission R, a street bike (see picture above). The company had developed its own system of battery pack and charging algorithms. They were advertising a range of 150 miles on a single charge.

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