Top Apple car exec hits off-ramp, heads for Detroit instead

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That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Apple Car. The Apple Car is way down the highway. But Apple has the pedal to the metal.
The man reportedly running Apple car development has taken an exit.
Photo illustration: Cult of Mac/Wikipedia CC

Development of an Apple car just hit another speed bump. Doug Field, who’d reportedly been managing the project, just left to join the Ford Motor Company.

This is surely a blow to Apple’s secretive automotive efforts. And the company was already multiple years away from having anything to put in a showroom, according to the latest leaks.

Doug Field is in at Apple. Now he’s out. In. Out.

It was a big deal when Field came to work at Apple in 2018. He’d just spent several years overseeing development of new electric vehicles for Tesla. Apple reportedly put Field in charge of day-to-day operations for vehicle development — a group rumored to be called Project Titan.

But before working at Tesla, Field worked at … Apple. He served as head of Mac hardware engineering for five years before leaving in 2013.

Many saw his return to the iPhone-maker as kicking development of an Apple car into high gear. But it hasn’t worked out that way. The vehicle reportedly remains as much as seven years away.

Development clearly hasn’t gone smoothly. There’ve been layoffs. Other execs have quit. And in late 2020, an Apple reorg moved development into John Giannandrea’s AI division.

Apple’s VP of Technology Kevin Lynch, one of the key figures in bringing the Apple Watch to market, was recently moved into Project Titan. It’s possible he’s going to take Field’s place.

Ford crows about its victory

Much of what happens in Apple’s efforts to create a self-driving car is kept top secret. Information leaks out in trickles. That’s not what happened Tuesday, though. Ford sounds thrilled about poaching Field from Apple — and didn’t hesitate to tell everyone all about its new hire.

“Doug is one of the world’s most respected engineering and product design leaders and has been a driving force behind breakthrough products across auto, tech and mobility, including at Apple, Tesla and Segway,” Ford President/CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “His talent and commitment to innovation that improves customers’ lives will be invaluable as we build out our Ford+ plan to deliver awesome products, always-on customer relationships and ever-improving user experiences. We are thrilled Doug chose to join Ford and help write the next amazing chapter of this great company.”