According to Bloomberg, it is hard to believe that Apple’s self-driving car project has entered its eighth year. With such erratic form, it seems that 2022 will be the most important moment for Apple Car.
The original iPhone prototype was famously reclusive in labs for up to three years before hitting the market. The first iPad and Apple Watch were also developed around the same time. Production of Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset has also started around 2016. If all goes to plan, the product will be introduced to the market in 6 years, ie in year 2022.
All of those new products saw a fairly consistent lead throughout the initial pregnancy. But Apple Car, the name many industry experts give to its self-driving car project, seems to be going through a major shake-up of the leadership team.
The project began in 2014 under the direction of Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer turned iPhone and iPod executive. The position was later given to former hardware head Dan Riccio and followed by his predecessor Bob Mansfield, who retired last year. Former Tesla CEO Doug Field took the helm of the project for a period from 2018 until September of this year.
When Field left the company, the lead on the project fell to Kevin Lynch. Unlike the four previous leaders, Lynch has neither hardware leadership expertise nor career history in the automotive world. His experience is limited to software. Lynch transformed the Apple Watch from a product with no apparent purpose into an indispensable device for notifications and health monitoring for millions of users.
Software is at the core of the Apple Car in at least two ways: The basic self-driving software that powers the car, and as with all Apple products, the operating system that users interact with to operate it. car.
When he took on the task, Lynch set out a new, unique direction for the project: A fully autonomous vehicle, without a steering wheel or pedals, and geared toward a limousine-like experience. He also pushed the development team, known as the Special Projects Team, to keep up the pace and work towards the goal of introducing the Apple Car as early as 2025.
Now that Lynch had figured out what he wanted from the project, he and Apple had to execute on that vision. The biggest challenge, aside from perfecting the technology, will be retaining the talent that will make this car a reality. However, Apple declined to comment on the matter.
Though Field is, by name and title, the most notable departure from the Apple Car team this year. But he was just one of many who left. In early 2021, the wave of departures began with four of the company’s top Apple Car leaders, all of whom were reporting to Field at the time: Dave Scott, Jaime Waydo, Dave Rosenthal, and Benjamin Lyon . Field then switched to Ford.
It’s not just top managers who have resigned. Recently, at least three key engineers working on battery technology, steering systems and self-driving sensors have left. Several former Apple employees have joined flying taxi startups.
Next year will be very important for Apple. Although the Apple Car project had found its vision, they needed to hire and retain the right people to make the whole system work. If it can’t figure out how to do that after a year under Apple Car’s fifth director, perhaps Apple should reconsider the feasibility of the project. If not, they can consider spending just a little of their nearly $200 billion in cash to buy some new electric-car startups to get an Apple Car prototype rolling soon.