Doug Field, the chief executive who has led Apple’s auto project since 2018, will become the new chief advanced technology officer at Ford. Field is the fourth chief executive of Apple’s auto project to leave since it was launched seven years ago.
Field was hired in 2018 to lead Apple’s auto project, a project that Apple started in 2014 under the moniker Project Titan. Apple wants to launch a self-driving car with this project. There have been rumors for years that Apple would be working on an Apple Car, a potentially autonomous car, which Apple confirmed in 2017.
The project suffered delays in 2016, including the departure of Steve Zadesky, who led the project, and hundreds of engineers working on the project were laid off between 2016 and 2019. In 2019, Apple acquired another company that develops technology for self-driving cars. Apple CEO Bob Mansfield, involved in the project, retired in 2020 and three other executives left early this year, Benjamin Lyon, Dave Scott and Jaime Waydo. Field is next in that series. It is not yet known who will take over his position.
Nevertheless, at the beginning of this year, the project seemed to have progressed. For example, the South Korean newspaper DongA stated in February that Kia and Apple had plans to market 100,000 cars a year under the Apple name from 2024, a rumor that Kia contradicted shortly afterwards. Nissan and Hyundai would also be in talks with Apple about the development of a car, according to the brands this would not be correct.
According to Bloomberg editor Mark Gurman, who has been following the developments around the Apple Car for years, Field’s departure is the biggest setback in the history of the project. He says on Twitter that Field’s departure means there will certainly not be an Apple Car in the coming years, if there ever will be.
Before his involvement in the Apple car project, Doug Field was responsible for the development of Tesla’s Model 3. Before that, he also worked at Apple and Segway. His return to Apple meant, according to experts, that there was a good chance that Apple would actually start producing a car. Field will be responsible for developing smart and connected cars and services at Ford.