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Tesla CEO Elon Musk encourages Apple to leap into the auto industry

Cupertino-based Apple is widely believed to be secretly preparing to launch its very first car. Code-named Project Titan internally, the rumored vehicle isn’t scheduled to go on sale until 2020 at the earliest but more than a few executives in the auto industry have already begun worrying about it. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, however, recently revealed that he would welcome the competition with open arms.

“I actually hope Apple gets into the car business, that would be great,” said Musk during Tesla’s quarterly earnings call. The CEO downplayed widespread media reports that claim Apple’s upcoming car¬†will inevitably hurt Tesla because it will be aimed right at the automaker’s current customers.

Other top executives haven’t been as upbeat and encouraging as Musk. A couple of months ago, former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson warned Apple that building an electric car is a very risky endeavor and a potentially bad move. Notably, he explained that Apple should be careful when entering a “low-margin, heavy-manufacturing” business, and that it would be better off sticking to electronics, which is what it does best.

“We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into a car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that,” suggested the 66-year old Akerson in a February, 2015, interview.

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A little later on in the conference call, Musk downplayed reports that Apple is using huge sign-on bonuses, of as high as $250,000, and astronomical pay raises, to poach Tesla engineers in order to accelerate the development of its car. He pointed out that over the past 12 months, Tesla has actually recruited five times more employees from Apple than the reverse, and noted that his assertion could be easily verified by simply logging onto LinkedIn.

Apple has not responded to Musk’s comments, and the company has been keeping its lips tightly sealed about anything surrounding Project Titan.