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Mercedes-Benz boss ‘not losing sleep’ over Apple Car rumours

The chairman of Mercedes-Benz has played down the significance of Apple’s potential incursion into the automotive industry, likening it to the German manufacturer suddenly entering the smartphone game.

Speaking to the Australian site Motoring.com.au (via 9to5Mac) Dieter Zetsche says, while he remains full of respect for Apple’s achievements, he wouldn’t advise the Cupertino company try its hand at cars.

He said: “If there were a rumour that Mercedes or Daimler planned to start building smartphones then they (Apple) would not be sleepless at night. And the same applies to me.

“And this is full of respect for Apple. That is what I am saying.”

The comments come after Mercedes-Benz lost its head of R&D to Apple’s mystery automotive project. R&D boss Johann Jungwirth signed on with the company, joining a number of Tesla employees jumping ship to Cupertino.

Related: Apple Car news

Earlier on Tuesday, Tesla boss Elon Musk told Bloomberg Apple is aggressively targeting his employees with huge sign on fees and wage increases. Musk claims Tesla workers are being offered a whopping $250,000 up front, plus up to 60 per cent salary boosts.

Despite Apple’s rumoured forays, the automotive industry doesn’t seem to concerned about the competition. Last week, the former head of General Motors warned Apple should think very carefully before betting the car on a car.

“If I were an Apple shareholder, I wouldn’t be very happy,” Dan Akerson said.  “I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing.

“Look at the margins of an iPhone versus a car,” he added. “I’d rather have the margins associated with the phone and produce [them].”

Are the big auto players right to dismiss Apple’s rumoured plans? Or will they come to regret underestimating the world’s richest and most successful company?

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