Exit of Apple’s Self-Driving Car Project’s Chief leaves the Company’s Success in doubt

The sudden departure of Doug Field, the automotive executive of Apple, jeopardizes the company’s efforts to create a self-driving vehicle, a project that would decide the company’s future. 

On Tuesday, Dough Field left the company to join Ford as an Adv Technology Officer, with his absolute experience with Tesla, he joined Apple in 2018 to lead the company’s self-driving car project. The workers at the Field of Apple’s driving car project were only briefed on the announcement. 

Not to forget, that project was the biggest bet for the company.  

Apple’s car efforts have always been a bit of a paradox – it’s a hotly anticipated product that the company says almost nothing about.”

It is not just about developing a self-driving car; it is the most challenging thing in the industry right now. Even Tesla – the industry giant, is nowhere close to featuring a fully autonomous vehicle.

Alphabet’s venture, Waymo, went through a series of unpleasant events while compiling their efforts to develop this technology. The previous year, Uber agreed to sell off their autonomous driving vehicle division.

What was the great move?

Apple’s efforts towards developing a self-driving car have been a pinch of a contradiction – it is one of those projects on which the company rarely talks about. Apple’s Field official who once was the vice president of the exceptional project was not being true to his role. Though, the company trusted him with one of the “Next Big Things”, a product that could boost the sales like the previous products of Apple’s did in the past and keep doing so. 

Dough Field's departure jeopardizes
Source: bloomberg

In 2014, Apple initiated the self-driving car project, coming in the race with Tesla for the first time. However, by 2016, the company found out that the project is not going as it should be. They were receiving doubtful messages from the project lead regarding self-driving technology. Eventually, the company acknowledged that they have also hired too many people for this project. Therefore, they laid off hundreds of technicians and engineers by the year 2019. 

Later, Bob Mansfield, a Former hardware engineer at Apple, started to dig deep into project efforts. He tried to refocus on the capabilities being overlooked. Apple had no experience with self-driving technology, rather than pushing itself to develop an entire vehicle itself. 

In 2018, Dough Field arrived, who had worked with Apple before working for Tesla to develop the famous Model 3 car. His return brought a ray of hope to the company. So it did happen. Field restructured the team, making former executives of Tesla, the supervisor of the self-driving technology software and the drivetrains, interior, and exterior of the car.  

In 2020, rumors had it that Apple was talking with carmakers to negotiate the car components. By the start of 2021, it was still hard to measure the company’s success. 

Filings from the Motor Vehicles (California Department) revealed that the car’s performance and reliability were not meeting its rival’s level like Waymo and GM motors Co’s Cruise.  

When Kevin Lynch, who worked on Apple’s smartwatches software, took charge of some software of the car project, several questions were raised inside the company as Lynch had no background and experience in the car industry. 

Apart from all the incidents, there are still so many eyes on Apple’s car potential. It could add billions of dollars to the revenue stream of the company only if the venture is successful. Moreover, the news of Field leaving the project blurs the road to success!

Who will now replace Field?

The stance on replacing Field is quite unclear whether the existing managers or Giannandrea will take the role. Apple wished all the best to Field, but it didn’t comment on how they will replace him.

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