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Car and Driver: BMW i Designer, Other Key Execs Leave for Chinese Electric-Car Startup

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BMWiTeamLeaves1.jpg
-Benoit Jacob’s name is attached to one of the most striking car designs you can buy today, the paradigm-shifting BMW i8. But recent reports suggest that Jacob and two of his BMW i Division colleagues are jumping ship for yet another out-of-nowhere Chinese-backed electric-car startup.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Jacob and coworkers Dirk Abendroth and Henrik Wenders have taken new positions with Future Mobility Corp, an electric-car startup backed by China’s Tencent Holdings. Abendroth was involved in electric powertrain development for the BMW i3 and i8; Wenders was head of product management for the BMW i division. The three recently-departed i team members follow Carsten Breitfeld, who served for 20 years at BMW before joining Future Mobility as CEO last month. Breitfeld also played a major role in the development of the i8 plug-in hybrid.

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They’re not the only BMW folks to depart for newly formed auto projects—back in November, Apple hired a former BMW software engineer with experience in EV charging, ostensibly for its open-secret automotive experiment, Project Titan.

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While nobody can predict what will come of Future Mobility Corp—the latest in a growing field of Chinese-backed automotive startups like Techrules and Faraday Future—we’re surprised to see these major departures from BMW’s much-hyped i division.

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This story originally appeared on Road & Track.

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