The Apple Car Heist: How an Ex-Engineer’s Plans to Sell Secrets to China Went Awry

Stealing is not only morally wrong, as our parents would tell us, but it is also illegal. When the theft involves confidential information from top companies like Apple, the seriousness of the situation escalates. This is exactly what happened with Xiaolang Zhang, who was involved in the initial development process of the now canceled Apple car project.

Zhang’s association with Apple began in late 2015, when he joined the Project Titan team aimed at creating an electric and autonomous car under the Apple brand. The project was still in its early stages at that time, with a roadmap and confidential documents outlining the development process.

In 2018, Zhang was arrested by the FBI at San José Airport while attempting to board a flight to China. This arrest followed suspicious activity by Zhang, such as downloading confidential documents and transferring them to his wife’s laptop. Despite initially pleading not guilty, Zhang eventually admitted to the theft of confidential information.

After a lengthy investigation, Zhang was sentenced to four months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a financial fine. There were speculations about whether Zhang sold the stolen information to Chinese companies like Xmotors or Xiaomi, but no concrete evidence has emerged to support these claims.

The cancellation of Apple’s car project and the subsequent unveiling of Xiaomi’s vehicle have sparked theories about potential information transfer between the two companies. However, there is currently no evidence to confirm these suspicions.

In conclusion, the case of Xiaolang Zhang serves as a reminder of the legal and ethical consequences of stealing confidential information. Companies like Apple prioritize confidentiality and protection of intellectual property, and individuals who violate these principles will be held accountable for their actions.