Ford chooses Apple Car director to lead cutting-edge technology


Ford Motor Co. has hired senior Apple executive Doug Field to lead efforts to make its vehicles as smart and indispensable as the iPhone.

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Why is this important: Traditional automakers like Ford need the software prowess of Silicon Valley as they attempt to navigate historic, industry-wide transformation. The electric, connected and automated cars of the future will be defined by software in the cloud, not the mechanical parts under the hood.

The plot: The hiring was seen as a blow to Ford and a blow to Apple, where Field had been a key player in the iPhone maker’s secret car project.

  • Rumors about the so-called Project Titan have been circulating for years, but Apple has said little about the state of its automotive ambitions.

  • Field did not bring up the subject during a briefing with reporters.

  • “Apple isn’t talking about new products, and I won’t talk about them either,” he said. “Apple is working on a lot of good things with the utmost secrecy.”

Details: In his new role, Field will be responsible for advanced technologies and on-board systems, reporting to Ford President and CEO Jim Farley.

  • He will lead the development of a new cloud-based connected vehicle platform called Blue Oval Intelligence.

  • It will allow customers to continually update their cars with new features – just like they do with their phones – or resolve warranty issues without visiting a dealership.

  • And it will help create new revenue opportunities for Ford through the cloud-based services that consumers want.

Background: Field is a boomerang Ford employee, having started his career there in 1987.

  • His career includes technical responsibility for some of the world’s most iconic products: the Segway scooter, Apple’s Mac computer hardware, and Tesla’s Model 3.

What they say : “This is a defining moment for our business – Doug has accomplished so much,” Farley told reporters. “It’s only a monumental moment in time that we now really have to remake a 118 year old business.”

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