On the heels of Apple VP Doug Field’s departure as chief of the Apple Car project for a role at Ford, Cupertino has named longtime Apple Watch software head Kevin Lynch its new exec in charge of Project Titan. That’s the code name for the company’s self-driving electric car effort.
Lynch, with Apple since 2013 and helping out with Titan since July, will now be in charge of Apple Car development efforts, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
This comes after news earlier today that Apple is refocusing on the Apple Car project by reopening its vehicle-development lab and conducting a selection process for parts suppliers.
Project Titan: a bumpy road
Bloomberg suggested Field’s departure could be a sign product development is still in early stages. Meaning no actual Apple Car will be visible on the horizon anytime soon.
That’s no secret, considering Project Titan’s rocky history. While the most recent setback saw the departure of Field, the project has also suffered staff layoffs, other leadership changes and attempted partnerships failing to get up to speed.
Who is Kevin Lynch?
Lynch joined Apple in 2013 after a long stint with Adobe, where he held key roles in the development of Flash. As an Apple VP of technology, Lynch figured largely in the Apple Watch’s development, including associated health features.
Field reportedly ran “day-to-day” Apple Car project operations before he left. Lynch began adding Apple Car software responsibilities to his task list back in July. But today’s report indicates his role has now grown to one of leadership, of course.
[Lynch] first started working on the project earlier this year when he took over teams handling the underlying software. Now he is overseeing the whole group, which also includes hardware engineering and work on self-driving car sensors, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the move isn’t public.
The choice of Lynch to head the car project indicates much of the company’s focus still remains on underlying software and self-driving technology — rather than the vehicle’s physical mechanics. Lynch has been a software executive for decades, not someone who oversees hardware teams. He’s also never worked at a car company.
No automotive industry experience
So Lynch has no car-industry experience. However, Bloomberg indicated Apple has “a few senior managers still on the project that come from the automotive world,” including former BMW and Tesla executives.
But the underlying message remains. Apple seems far from any production stage if it’s putting a software guy in charge now. Analysts predict production will begin sometime between 2024 and 2027. That’s still pretty far down the road.
In addition to his leadership of Project Titan, Lynch is expected to continue his involvement with Apple Watch and related health initiatives.