Apple has hired Tesla's former vice president of vehicle engineering and the man who helped Aston Martin create the DB9 and million-pound One-77 supercar. British-born Chris Porritt has quietly joined the iPhone maker and is believed to be working on Project Titan, Apple's secretive car development programme.

Starting his engineering career as an intern at Land Rover in 1987, Porritt worked his way up to become a principal engineer at Land Rover, before leaving in 1997 to become chief engineer at Aston Martin. Porritt then moved to California and Tesla in 2013, where he was vice president of vehicle engineering and is reported to have worked on the Model S, Model X and new Model 3 electric cars.

Porritt's LinkedIn page does not mention the move to Apple, but a report by Electrek claims he recently joined Apple with the intentionally vague job title of Special Projects Group PD Administrator. Special Projects is the division of Apple responsible for products not yet in the public eye, including its car, known internally as Project Titan and referred to by Tesla CEO Elon Musk as "an open secret" in Silicon Valley.

His move to Apple comes shortly after the apparent departure of Steve Zadesky, who was believed to have been leader Project Titan. With Zadesky gone, it would appear that Porritt is now the most senior member of the team from an automotive background.

'An outstanding engineer'

Porritt's move from Aston Martin to Tesla was announced in 2013 with a press release, which included a statement from Musk that read: "Tesla is a hardcore technology company, which means that anyone leading a team of engineers must be an outstanding engineer themself, as well as a good leader. Chris demonstrated exactly that in his prior role at Aston Martin, creating in the One-77 what was arguably their best car ever."

Having spoken to Apple insiders who are aware of the hiring, Electrek reports that "some senior Apple engineers will be reporting directly to Porritt".

A number of employees have traded places between Apple and Tesla. So much so, that in 2015 Musk referred to Apple as the "Tesla graveyard" because it had been hiring fired Tesla staff. "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding," Musk said, adding that Apple developing a car is "the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation."