Apple's car project is cruising along with the help of someone who knows a thing or two about bringing products to market: Bob Mansfield.
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The former Apple Senior Vice President of technologies, who stepped down from his post on Cupertino's executive team three years ago, is now "running the company's secret autonomous, electric-vehicle initiative," internally known as "Project Titan," according to The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Mansfield joined Apple in 1999 after Cupertino acquired Raycer Graphics, where he served as vice president of engineering. During his tenure, Mansfield was in charge of the Mac hardware team, iPhone and iPad hardware engineering, and the iPad hardware team.
In June 2012, Mansfield decided to leave the tech game, but two months later, it was announced that Mansfield would remain at Apple, to "work on future products" and report directly to CEO Tim Cook. The following year, he officially exited Cupertino's executive team in favor of a smaller role working on "special projects" like the Apple Watch.
"Until recently, Mr. Mansfield… had all but retreated from the company aside from the occasional visit," the Journal's sources said. "Earlier this month, employees at Apple noticed in the company directory that all the senior managers on the car project were now reporting to Mr. Mansfield."
Meanwhile, don't get too excited about the Apple Car just yet, because word has it the vehicle is still at least five years away. The Information last week reported that Apple has pushed back its expected car launch to 2021. Cupertino was previously aiming for a 2020 launch, though it has yet to even confirm that it's working on a car project, so take release date news with a grain of salt.