Angela Merkel speaks next to the new BMW i3 electric car / Corbis

Claims come amid speculation that Apple is building an ‘iCar’

Apple is hiring battery engineers to build an electric car division, alleges a new lawsuit.

A123 Systems makes batteries for electric cars and claims that Apple has hired its staff to make a similar division. The accusations come amid claims that Apple is planning an electric car of its own.

The lawsuit claims that Apple has been aggressively poaching A123’s engineers since June 2014. Many of those people were leading some of the company’s biggest projects, which have since had to be cancelled, according to a filing earlier this month in Massachusetts federal court. They left to pursue similar programs at Apple and in doing so broke employment agreements and caused the plans to be cancelled, A123 alleges.

"Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123," the lawsuit reads.

Apple has not yet had a chance to respond to the allegations, and did not return a request for comment.

A123 builds lithium-ion batteries, which are used in aeroplanes as well as computers. The company specialises in building big batteries to power cars and other machines.

Apple is also said to have been hiring employees from Tesla, the Elon Musk-founded company that builds electric cars. Many of the new recruits take vague job titles and it is unclear what roles they are working in at Apple.

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