(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. said it’s exploring a potential resolution of a lawsuit in which it’s accused of poaching employees from a lithium ion battery maker amid reports that it’s trying to develop an electric car.
The company asked a federal judge in Boston for more time to respond to A123 Systems LLC’s request for a court order barring one of its former employees from breaking his employment agreement and preventing Apple from encouraging him to do so.
In its lawsuit last month, A123 of Waltham, Mass., also accused five former employees of violating nondisclosure agreements as they either went to work for Apple or planned to go.
Apple is pushing its team to begin production of a car as early as 2020, people familiar with the effort have said.
The timeframe -- automakers typically spend five to seven years developing a car -- underscores the company’s aggressive goals and could set the stage for a battle for customers with Tesla Motors Inc. and General Motors.
Apple’s secretive project may not lead to a car, people familiar with the matter have said, noting that the company often works on projects that don’t get a final green light.
A123’s lawsuit offered a unique window into Apple’s efforts, showing that the maker of iPhones was looking for engineers with automotive experience a year ago when hiring away from Mujeeb Ijaz, a former Ford Motor Co. engineer and founder of A123’s Venture Technologies division, which focused on materials research, cell product development and advanced concepts.
Wanxiang Group Corp. won approval from the U.S. government to acquire A123 out of bankruptcy reorganization in 2013.
The battery maker filed for bankruptcy in October 2012 after a previous deal with Wanxiang was scuttled amid congressional Republicans’ reluctance to allow its sale to a Chinese company.