Every few weeks I will see some kind of news item about Apple, which makes the iPhone and computers, and Apple’s alleged attempt to make a car, which it reportedly has been trying off and on to do for seven years. The news item will be that some executive has come or gone, or that a car company is considering collaborating with Apple, or something about parts sourcing. Usually, it will also come with the suggestion that, really guys, Apple might be serious this time. I refuse to believe that this project is ever happening.
The latest news in this vein, via Bloomberg Tuesday, is that Apple has hired someone from Ford named Desi Ujkashevic to work on the project. Ujkashevic worked at Ford for 31 years, and Bloomberg says that her last job there was “global director of automotive safety engineering”; Bloomberg also says that Ford said Ujkashevic is retired.
Who is this person and is this actually important? Probably not, though Ujkashevic getting a job at Apple also led Bloomberg to report the following:
Enlisting Ujkashevic suggests that Apple is continuing to push toward a self-driving car despite several high-profile departures over the past year. The project’s management team has been almost entirely replaced since it was run by Doug Field, an executive who left for Ford last year.
Building an electric, self-driving car is seen as a “next big thing” for Apple — a new product category that can keep its sales growth from stalling. But the project has suffered numerous strategy shifts and personnel changes since it kicked off around seven years ago.
Turnover has been especially heavy over the past year. Besides the departure of Field, Apple lost key managers in charge of hardware engineering, robotics and sensors. In some cases, high-ranking engineers left to join flying taxi startups.
Doug Field, you’ll remember, worked at Apple before working at Tesla, before working at Apple again, before now working at Ford. Field also used to work at Segway. His work at Tesla is probably the most impressive on his resume, given that Tesla actually makes cars. His work at Apple is hard to judge, because Apple doesn’t.
But Field isn’t unique in that regard, as anyone who has ever been hired by Apple to make a car has never done it either, Ujkashevic the latest. I am open to it, too, Apple, since I know you’re listening. I will happily get paid well for a few years to “work” on this project. Have your people call my people. It’s finally time, once again, to never do it.