Apple’s electric car project may have encountered a new roadblock.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), project leader Steve Zadesky is leaving the company. The report cites people familiar with the matter, who claim that Zadesky’s departure is not related to job performance and stems from “personal reasons.” As the leader of Project Titan, which many assume is Apple’s electric car project, for the last two years, his absence will certainly be a setback for Apple, but it is unclear exactly when his exit will occur.
Zadesky left an engineering position at Ford Motor Company in 1999 to work at the Cupertino-based tech firm, where he rose through the ranks to become vice president of iPod and iPhone product design. The Stanford graduate was named on over 90 patents during his tenure.
A man with with a close eye on Project Titan is Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently declared Apple’s taciturn endeavors as “an open secret.” Despite all the rumors and speculation, Apple has yet to officially confirm or deny it is building a car at all, divulging nothing other than the occasional cryptic statement. Here’s what Apple CEO Tim Cook said in November of last year:
“I don’t have anything to announce about our plans. But I think there’s some significant changes in the automobile industry over the next several years with electrification and autonomous driving. And there’s a need for a focus on user interface. And so I think there’s a lot of changes that will go on there.”
Musk is clearly not convinced, however.
“It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it,” Musk recently told the BBC.
As of now, our best guess is that Apple will produce an electric vehicle that will debut sometime around 2019, but it is unclear whether the car will be fully self-driving, manually operated, or something in between. For more, check out our rumor roundup.