Ford Scoops Up Doug Field From Apple (And Formerly Tesla, Apple, Segway … & Ford)

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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 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:

Apple Electric Car Rumor Mill Speculates On Project Titan Objectives (February 2019)

Apple To Tesla To Apple: Doug Field Returns To Project Titan Team (August 2018)

Doug Field, Tesla’s 3rd Ranking Engineer, Departed In Midst Of Model 3 “Burst Week” (July 2018)

Musk Breaks Out His Sleeping Bag Again, Adds Model 3 Production To Breakfast Time (April 2018)

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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