Development on the long-rumored Apple Car has taken another step forward, according to a new report from Bloomberg (opens in new tab). The report claims Apple has hired Desi Ujkashevic, a 31-year veteran of Ford, in a bid to ramp up production of its first electric car.
This news comes several months after Apple lost Doug Field to Ford, and placed executive Kevin Lynch in charge of the Apple Car project. Progress on the Apple Car hasn’t been very clear at the best of times, but things got pretty murky after Field’s defection to Ford.
Lynch may be a veteran Apple executive, but his experience leans towards the software side of the business. He’s best known for developing Apple Watch software, and has no known experience in the automotive industry. As important software is to a modern car, especially one with any level of autonomy, bringing Ujkashevic on board is a good sign.
At the very least it means Apple may well be getting back on track with developing the Apple Car’s physical form. Especially given reports Apple is gunning for a 2025 launch.
Ujkashevic’s most recent position at Ford was global director of automotive safety engineering. Previously she helped oversee the development of interiors, exterior, chassis and electrical components for a number of Ford cars — including the Escape, Explorer, Fiesta and Focus.
Crucially, however, it appears that Ujkashevic has experience dealing with regulatory issues. That’s something Apple is going to need plenty of help on to get its car on the road. More so if the rumors that the car will be completely autonomous are true.
Apple hasn’t commented on the hiring, just as it hasn’t said anything about the Apple Car in public. But in the wave of reported multiple setbacks, including loss of key staff and issues with finding willing production partners. Seemingly a lot of established car companies were hesitant about handing the reigns over to Apple, and risk becoming a glorified OEM in the process.
2025 might seem like a long way off, but the rumored launch deadline is inching ever closer all the time. But without knowing which stage of development the Apple Car is in, we have no way of knowing whether that goal is achievable or not. Especially considering Apple has never actually made a car before.
In theory, entering the electric car industry is easier than developing gas-powered cars, on account of the fact electric motors don’t require the same research and development as internal combustion engines. But a car is not a smartphone or a laptop, and making the jump still requires plenty of expert knowledge.
We’ll have to wait and see what Ujkashevic’s hiring means for the Apple Car, but I’m cautiously optimistic.