Cupertino recruits veteran Ford exec for Apple car team | Cult of Mac

Cupertino recruits veteran Ford exec for Apple car team

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Ford took the Apple Car chief, now Cupertino takes another veteran leader from Ford.
Ford took the Apple car chief, now Cupertino takes another veteran leader from Ford.
Photo: Peter Trones/Unsplash License

Accelerating work on its self-driving electric vehicle project, Apple recruited veteran Ford engineer and executive Desi Ujkashevic to join the team.

The move comes after various stalls and road bumps in Cupertino’s secretive Project Titan in recent years, including Ford luring away Apple car chief Doug Field last year.

Apple car team adds veteran Ford engineer

A 31-year veteran of Ford as an engineer and executive, Ujkashevic recently opted to work for Apple, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The publication noted that Ford said she retired in March. However, Ford websites continued to list her as an employee.

Apple’s hiring of Ujkashevic comes after Ford poached Doug Field, chief of Project Titan, last year. Tesla initially hired Field away from Apple in 2013 to help the Model 3 into production. But Field landed back at Apple in 2018, only to decamp for Ford in September 2021.

Of course, the Apple car’s starts and stalls have been going on for some time, with numerous personnel shifts.

Ujkashevic’s tenure at Ford

Ujkashevic began working at Ford in 1991. Most recently, she held the title of global director of automotive safety engineering.

Bloomberg noted Ujkashevic’s skillset includes navigating regulatory issues. Clearly that’s something Apple will face in its efforts to ship a self-driving EV.

Ujkashevic worked on several of Ford’s popular vehicles, including the Escape, Explorer, Fiesta and Focus models. She also worked on the Lincoln MKC and Aviator projects. And she played a role in Ford’s push into the EV industry.

Apple’s possible timeline

Following Field’s departure from Apple, VP of technology and former Apple Watch software chief Kevin Lynch appears to be leading the Apple car team. Cupertino is said to be working on a full self-driving electric car, with the goal of production starting as early as 2025.

Whether Apple’s 2025 timeline is actually possible to achieve, hiring Ujkashevic indicates the company is trying to drive its electric car efforts forward. Of course, it will do so in competition with the likes of Ford, Tesla, Rivian and others.