According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple VP of Product Design Steve Zadesky, who was believed to be leading Apple’s electric vehicle development efforts since 2014, has informed colleagues that he will be leaving the company.
Zadesky, a former Ford engineer, joined Apple in 1999 and worked on the iPod and iPhone during his 16-year career in Cupertino. He is also named on several U.S. patents and documents related to Liquidmetal, a malleable alloy which Apple owns the exclusive rights to.
His impending departure from Apple is said to be for personal reasons, rather than an indication of his performance at the company. Zadesky departure from the company would surely mark a setback for Apple’s electric vehicle plans:
“Still, the pending departure marks a setback for one of the most talked-about projects in the technology field. Apple has become the most valuable company in the world making consumer electronics products, but moving into the automotive sector poses big new challenges.”
Apple has aggressively recruited engineers and other talent from Tesla, Ford, GM, Samsung, A123 Systems, Nvidia and elsewhere to work on the rumored “Apple Car” project, which has allegedly been called “Project Titan” internally.
Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the “Apple Car” and “open secret.” Apple’s electric vehicle could be approved for production by 2020, but some employees reportedly believe it “might take several more years” for the iPhone maker to develop a truly differentiated electric vehicle.
According to the report, the project has encountered some challenges internally due to a lack of clear goals.