Last week, Apple announced that Steve Zadesky, the man who reportedly was in charge of the super secret Apple car project, has left the company “for personal reasons.” That is usually corporate code for saying someone has been fired without coming right out and saying so. In his place, Apple has turned to one of its oldest and most trusted veterans, Bob Mansfield.
Mansfield has been involved at the highest levels with such vital Apple products as the MacBook Air laptop computer, the iMac desktop computer, and the iPad tablet. According to the Wall Street Journal, he joined Apple in 1999 and was one of its top executives under Steve Jobs. Subsequently, he served as an adviser to the company. In 2013, Apple said Mansfield would remain at Apple to work on special projects and report directly to CEO Tim Cook. One of those projects — the Apple Watch — was introduced last year.
Until recently, Mansfield was largely absent from the company except for occasional visits. However earlier this month employees at Apple noticed that the company directory had changed to show all the senior managers on the Apple car project — code named Project Titan — were now reporting to Mansfield.
Apple insiders say the company has hired many people with automobile manufacturing experience. There are reports of clashes between the car building people and the traditional Apple employees who specialize more in software than hardware. Technology news site The Information reported last week that Apple had pushed back the target date for Project Titan to 2021, although it isn’t clear whether this is a target that Mr. Mansfield has approved.
Within the company, Mansfield has a reputation as a data driven decision maker who enjoys complex projects. However, one person familiar with his work cautioned that his involvement isn’t necessarily a sign that the car project is ready to move forward. Mansfield also has killed projects in the past.
The mystery around an Apple car deepens. Is it going to build a car or not? Will it be autonomous or not? Will it settle for getting is Apple Car Play systems installed as original equipment by existing manufacturers? Will it build a car itself or farm out production to an independent like Steyer?
Those are the questions that Bob Mansfield has apparently been asked to provide definitive answers to for Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Source: Wall Street Journal