Ford CEO Jim Farley announced earlier today (via Twitter of course) that Doug Field was rejoining Ford — after nearly 30 years working elsewhere.
Field worked at Ford from December 1987 to November 1993. After that 6-year stint, he left the automobile world for quite a while. He worked at Johnson & Johnson Medical for a few years, DEKA Research & Development for a couple of years as chief engineer for the iBOT program (high-tech wheelchairs), Segway for 9 years (VP of Design & Engineering, & CTO), and Apple for 5 years (VP of Product Design and VP of Mac Hardware Engineering) before finally returning to the auto industry to work for Tesla for 5 years (VP of Vehicle Programs, then Senior VP of Engineering).
After those 5 years at Tesla, though, Field jumped back to his previous employer and worked at Apple as VP of special projects since August 2018 — until today. Now, Field is back at Ford, and people are wondering, what does that mean?
Here are a few key things people think this could mean:
- Apple’s autonomous car program is dead, or failing.
- Ford is really on to something and Field wanted to be involved. (I haven’t see much expectation of this, but wanted to put it in to be fair to that possibility.)
- Field actually doesn’t have a good track record of success in this field despite a lot of great titles and perhaps brilliant work a decade ago at Apple.
We’ll see what happens, but I can’t say that I assume Ford will shoot to the top of the charts as an autonomous driving leader just because it nabbed Field. In fact, it’s hard to read much of anything into this that we didn’t basically know or expect before. Yes, it’s long been suspected that Apple’s autonomous car efforts haven’t been bringing much fruit, and one could say this is a sign of that — after all, why would Field leave if Apple was on the verge of a breakthrough?
Ford has clearly gotten much more focused on electrification, so one could also see it as an appealing place to work with a nearly blank slate if you want to help build an EV program. Plus, Field has the decades-old connection to the Michigan automaker. And Ford may be bringing Field into the team simply to help with EV powertrain development and the EV powertrain supply chain. CEO Jim Farley’s tweet really focuses on transitioning Ford’s fleet to “computers on wheels” rather than its current state of “cars with computers in them.”
As we wait for more info, here are some tweets that I found useful, intriguing, or funny:
what did Doug exactly do at Apple? He joined 2 years ago and see no contribution of any car etc. Does that mean Apple car is still a dream?
— letsrebelagain (@letsrebelagain) September 7, 2021
Failed to deliver at Telsa ✅
Failed to deliver at Apple ✅
Good luck breaking the routine at Ford. Maybe he can help BlueCruise actually maintain the speed you set it at instead of dangerously accelerating beyond 90mph or brake checking you for “safety”
— BroJo (@iAmAPaidShill) September 7, 2021
That’s big news! Excited to hear Doug will help accelerate and improve Ford’s Electrification plan!
— The Kilowatts 🚗⚡️ (@klwtts) September 7, 2021
Had the pleasure of observing Doug at Segway when I was just a itty bitty intern, I can’t wait to see the work he does at Ford!
— Matt Karolian (@mkarolian) September 7, 2021
Is he bringing chips with him!? #chipshortage
— YOLOCrypto (@804Adventurer) September 7, 2021
You will not regret it Jim, I worked with Doug and I know who he is! Besides the fact he is all for innovations … he is also a true gentleman who doesn’t see gender only engineers!
— Cristina Balan (@CristinaIBalan) September 7, 2021
What do you think of the move?
As we await more info, here ‘s a bit of background on previous Doug Field coverage (or at least mentions) on CleanTechnica: