Apple’s car project to come under wearables chief Kevin Lynch’s watch

10 Sep 2021

Kevin Lynch. Image: JD Lasica/Flickr

Kevin Lynch has reportedly been tapped to take over the secretive Project Titan from Doug Field, who left for Ford earlier this week.

Apple has appointed its wearables and health chief Kevin Lynch to lead its self-driving car project, days after former head Doug Field left the company for Ford, according to reports from Bloomberg.

A former Adobe executive, Lynch joined Apple in 2013 and has since spearheaded its Apple Watch and health units – often appearing on WatchOS update presentations. He is now said to be replacing Field, who headed the company’s car efforts for three years.

Field is an Apple veteran who, after working at Tesla for five years, returned to Apple in 2018 as VP of its special projects group, focusing on the development of a self-driving electric vehicle, internally known as Project Titan.

Earlier this week, it was announced that he will become chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer at Ford, reporting directly to CEO Jim Farley.

Mark Gurman, journalist and Apple expert, tweeted that Field’s departure is “probably the largest setback” for the company’s car project and that the expected launch date is “further out now, if ever”. A Reuters report in December said that Apple expected to begin its car production by 2024.

Lynch has been involved in the software side of things at Apple, and Bloomberg reports that his appointment could indicate that Apple’s car is still in the software development stage.

Meanwhile, a MacRumors report this week suggested that Apple has decided to develop its car without the assistance of an automobile manufacturer. It said that sources told Korea’s Maeil Economic Daily that the company is now seeking final parts suppliers.

Earlier this year, South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai’s stock soared after it confirmed it was in “early-stage discussions” with Apple to jointly develop self-driving electric cars. However, it soon revised its statement and removed any mention of Apple.

Despite Field’s departure, the company is said to be left with hundreds of engineers still working on Project Titan, with Lynch as the new head.

Previous heads of Apple’s car division have all had experience working in the automobile industry, unlike Lynch. Steve Zadesky, the car project’s first manager, was a former Ford engineer, while Field was a senior engineer at Tesla. Only time will tell if the car project, which has faced many roadblocks over the years, will pass the test.

Kevin Lynch image: JD Lasica/Flickr (CC BY  2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic