Apple puts Bob Mansfield in charge of Project Titan car project

26 Jul 2016

Apple has appointed special projects man Bob Mansfield to lead the Project Titan team designing the tech giant’s first electric car

Bob Mansfield – a senior engineer who led the development of key products including the iMac, MacBook Air, iPad and Apple Watch – is understood to be heading the pivotal Project Titan team designing Apple’s forthcoming electric car.

Bob Mansfield is reputed to be Apple’s ‘special projects’ guy and joined the company in 1999, working alongside the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Mansfield left Apple’s executive team in 2013 but remains to work on special projects and reports directly to CEO Tim Cook. Most recently, he spearheaded the development of the Apple Watch.

Future Human

According to the Wall Street Journal, apart from appearing alongside Jony Ive in product announcement videos, little has been seen or heard of Mansfield of late.

However, employees are understood to have noticed an updated company directory whereby all senior managers on the car project now report directly to Mansfield.

Mansfield is understood to be a data-driven decision maker who enjoys engineering challenges.

Project Titan, Apple’s electric car project, is revving up

Apple is recently said to have tripled its R&D budget from $3bn to $10bn, driven by its ambition to enter the electric car market.

Apple is under pressure to pull a new wonder device or series of products out of the hat and since the Apple Watch, the iPad Pro and the dinky iPhone SE, nothing new has yet emerged from the Apple stable.

But with Mansfield now ensconced in Project Titan, things might be about to step up a gear.

According to one Apple analyst, Neil Cybart, author of the Above Avalon blog, Apple is spending on R&D at levels never seen before in its history.

“Apple is now on track to spend more than $10bn on R&D in 2016, up nearly 30pc from 2015 and ahead of even my aggressive estimate,” Cybart said in May. “This is a remarkable feat considering that Apple was spending a little over $3bn per year on R&D just four years ago.”

Just like how Apple entered the mobile phone business in 2007 with the iPhone, Apple – Cybart reckons – is ramping up to enter a new industry. Most likely, this will be the car industry.

“We see the company do just that by entering the smartphone market, followed by the wearables market and soon, the auto market,” said Cybart.

Apple is due to report its latest quarterly earnings today (26 July 2016).

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years