In the ongoing saga of Apple’s long-rumoured plans to build an electric car, a new report claims the company has hit a bumpy stretch after multiple top managers from the auto development division have left the company in recent months.
According to Bloomberg, former Tesla engineer Doug Field remains in charge of the division overseeing the Apple car’s development but the project’s core management team — which consists of fewer than a dozen people — has suffered from at least three major departures already this year.
The most recent exit is reportedly that of Dave Scott, who recently left Apple to become the CEO at Hyperfine, which is a company working to create new and more affordable MRI systems. And just before Scott left, the person who was previously in charge of the Apple Car’s safety and regulations team, Jaime Waydo, also exited the company to become the CTO at the autonomous car startup Cavnue.
Finally, going back to February, Bloomberg says Benjamin Lyon, one of the original members of the Apple car team, quit to serve as the chief engineer for space and satellite launch company Astra.
While most predictions claim that the Apple Car won’t be ready until 2024 or 2025 at the earliest, rumours and reports regarding the Apple Car’s development continue to get a lot of attention as Apple entering the car world represents one of the company’s biggest most challenging new projects ever.
Back in January and February, reports came out saying that Apple had selected Hyundai’s E-GMP EV car platform as the base for the Apple Car, only for negotiations between Apple and Hyundai to fall apart a week later after some execs within Hyundai expressed concerns about being turned into a contract manufacturer for Apple, similar to the role Foxconn plays when it comes to making iPhones.
Bloomberg says that one of the issues plaguing the Apple Car’s development is multiple changes in scope. Back at the beginning of the project in 2014, Apple’s original plan was to build a vehicle to rival Tesla’s EVs. However, sometime in 2016, Apple reportedly narrowed its scope to simply developing an autonomous driving system instead of an entire car. But recently, it seems Apple has changed its priorities again back to creating a full self-driving electric car, potentially with the help of established EV makers when it comes to creating a core EV platform.
So while even the most aggressive estimates for the arrival of the Apple Car still place the vehicle’s release state three or four years away, if the company’s car division continues to suffer from an exit of talent and a change in focus, there’s a good chance people looking forward to the Apple Car could be waiting a lot longer than that.