Apple taps Bob Mansfield to oversee Apple Car project

“Apple Inc. has tapped a highly regarded senior executive who helped bring to market many of Apple’s signature products to oversee its fledgling automobile project, according to people familiar with the matter,” Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Bob Mansfield had stepped back from a day-to-day role at the company a few years ago, after leading the hardware engineering development of products including the MacBook Air laptop computer, the iMac desktop computer, and the iPad tablet. Apple now has Mr. Mansfield running the company’s secret autonomous, electric-vehicle initiative, code-named Project Titan, the people said.”

“Until recently, Mr. Mansfield—who, along with design chief Jony Ive, was one of the few executives to appear in Apple’s carefully-crafted product announcement videos—had all but retreated from the company aside from the occasional visit, these people 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, they said,” Wakabayashi reports. “Mr. Mansfield’s reassignment brings a leader with a record of delivering challenging technical products to market to an effort that has been mired in problems, according to people familiar with the project.”

“Mr. Mansfield has a reputation within Apple as a data-driven decision maker who enjoys complex projects,” Wakabayashi reports. “However, one person familiar with Mr. Mansfield cautioned that his involvement isn’t necessarily a sign that the car project is ready to move forward at an accelerated rate, noting that he has killed projects in the past.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bob, Bob, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, nobody can!

SEE ALSO:
Apple veteran Steve Zadesky overseeing electric-car project leaving company – January 22, 2016
Apple is building their largest startup ever – October 1, 2015
Why it’s time for an Apple Car – October 1, 2015
The deeper reason for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Volkswagen emissions scandal spotlights need for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Morgan Stanley: Apple Car, if true, ‘one of the most important moments in transportation’ – September 22, 2015
Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz: Apple Car ‘is going to be a gigantic money pit’ – September 22, 2015
Apple speeds up electric-car efforts, aims for 2019 ‘ship date’ – September 21, 2015
Apple meets California DMV officials to discuss ‘autonomous vehicle’ – September 18, 2015
Documents confirm Apple is building self-driving car, Project Titan further along than many suspect – August 14, 2015
Apple Car development proceeds apace – July 27, 2015
Apple hires veteran Fiat Chrysler auto industry executive – July 20, 2015
What’s up with Carl Icahn’s sudden obsession with the Apple Car? – May 18, 2015
Survey: 77% of hybrid or electric vehicle owners would likely buy an Apple Car – May 13, 2015
Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world – February 22, 2015
Bob Mansfield’s new role at Apple is to focus on chips – August 3, 2013
Is Apple flying the pirate flag again? Mansfield move means something special is in works – August 1, 2013
Gruber: Nothing to read between the lines, Bob Mansfield really is working on ‘special projects’ for Apple – July 29, 2013
Apple’s Bob Mansfield to focus on ‘special projects’ – July 29, 2013
Apple removes SVP Bob Mansfield from executive team; will remain at Apple reporting to Tim Cook – July 28, 2013
Un-retired: Why Bob Mansfield is back at Apple in a big way – November 1, 2012
Tim Cook takes full control of Apple: John Browett and Scott Forstall out; Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi get expanded responsibilities – October 29, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook expands executive team, Senior VP Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield will not retire – August 27, 2012
Brain drain? Apple’s Bob Mansfield is 2nd key exec to leave since Steve Jobs died – June 29, 2012
Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, to retire; Dan Riccio to take over – June 28, 2012

21 Comments

  1. I’ve been very excited about Apple’s reported efforts in this area, but I’ll admit to becoming more dubious after reading Musk’s latest 10 year plan. Tesla has a huge lead in this area. Their plans for autonomous vehicles that people can willingly share in an open-use pool to make money, plus their investments in plants, employees, etc make me lots less sure that Apple can ENTER the market in 2020 or 2021 and make any significant headway.

      1. Two, all hype. Plus a shipping Model S. Oh, and a shipping Model C. Plus the advanced-stages of Model 3. Plus the gigfactory in process. Oh and all the factories currently building the above. And a pretty useful hands free mode already. But beyond that all hype, definitely.

          1. As an investor in both Apple and Tesla, yes, it would be great for investors if Tesla were profitable now AND growing like crazy. But frankly I’ll take the growth. For profits I can chuck my retirement funds into BofA or oil companies.

            But the question of whether Tesla’s balance of profit-taking versus reinvestment is optimal for investors is utterly 100% irrelevant to whether they have a gigantic head start on Apple. That’s not even debatable unless you’re just trying to argue for the sake of arguing.

            Working factories, world-class engineering staff, an executive team firing (so to speak, haha) on all cylinders, a powerful and deeply respected automotive brand, loyal customers, those are not hype. They are precisely what Apple needs in order to win this game, and Tesla already has it.

          2. Somehow I don’t think you or I are in any position to assess the finances of Tesla. Like Amazon, it appears that Tesla’s plan for success is to plow all its money back into company growth, product development, and process improvements. AS IT SHOULD BE. Apple on the other hand camps on billions of dollars sitting essentially unused overseas.

            Apple has no more business jumping in the car industry than Microsoft.

            I see that Apple is pulling Mansfield out of retirement because they’re way over their heads in an industry where their prior experience and strengths don’t pan out. Apple would be better off pulling the plug on Titan and getting Mansfield to train up a new generation of product experts to completely rejuvenate the Mac lineup. And keep empty suits like Cue, Ive, and Ahrendts as far away as possible.

  2. I will probably get flamed for this, but auto manufacturing and distributing is far more difficult for many substantial reasons, vehicles operating under dozens of different legal systems, climate reasons, the list goes on. I have been there for two different very well known and respected manufacturers. And I have been in two other industries since. In the end, the guy with specific experience in the industry, no matter what it is, will win 90% of the time. It’s because of the experience, but the boutique manufacturers like Tesla and dozens of others who went in to the car business found out, its a lot harder and a lot more complex than computers and phones, but they can’t know that until after the deal is done….and working…. but hey, good luck to them.

    1. Your point is well taken. But how many major industry moonshot projects would have even been started, let alone completed, has the decision making leadership known in advance what it would really take?

      Fools may rush in. But it’s the determined fool with a vision that can stomach the setbacks and still see it through to completion.

      1. “But it’s the determined fool with a vision that can stomach the setbacks and still see it through to completion.”

        He gets beaten badly by the experienced guy with the experience and wisdom needed to make something real out of the vision.

        Maybe this is not a perfect example. 20 years as a Tae Kwon Do instructor. Highly talented athletes come in all the time and get humiliated by a 110 lb 15 year old girl with 10 years experience.

        1. Funny you should mention Taekwondo. My son just got his ATA Blackbelt three months ago, which I’m very proud of. I think as you age your technique needs to evolve. Older bigger people are not going to be as fast as the smaller and younger. Older contestants will have to compensate with power and misdirection.

          By the same token, those new to the auto industry are going to be faster (and make mistakes faster) than their mature competitors. They will be unburdened by history and feel free to make bold design trade-offs that might lead to big payoffs. It’s risky, yes, and failure is a real possibility. But the auto industry as a whole will be transformed by these insurgents.

          1. “But the auto industry as a whole will be transformed by these insurgents.” As in all life activities, some will succeed and some will not. It’s just a question of what percentage. My life experience in several areas, some successful, some not: I will always bet on the guy or girl that uses experience to manage and develop talent. Experience will win the majority. Our Olympic team member, her 2nd time, Bronze medal in London, is better this time—more experience and wisdom. In our 5 clubs, the toughest people are those from 40-60 (believe it or not) because the physical ability only drops about 10% (measured objectively) but the wisdom and experience outweighs the raw athleticsm of the under 40’s. But we are a 35 year old organization with the same senior instructors, the same may not be true of the clubs who are kid oriented. Our Olympic girl learned by sparring grown experienced men.

  3. Apple now has Mr. Mansfield running the company’s secret

    NOT so secret, apparently.

    When I was at Kodak, we had people I called ‘Undertakers’. If they were assigned to a project, it was gonna die. But I don’t think that’s the case with Bob Mansfield. Apple has leapt out of its areas of expertise with this ‘secret‘ project. I think it’s requiring revision, a very useful word in any project, in order to gain focus, a very Jobsian word. This is the result of the ‘verification’ step that is the end point of any project cycle. If the project doesn’t verify as fitting its goals, you cycle again with revision.

  4. I’m a bit perplexed by all the negativity towards Elon Musk, especially emanating from the larger Apple community. He’s a visionary with big ideas and not afraid to take risks. Seems to me those qualities were shared by someone we all know and miss greatly.

    I recall a host of M$ drones willfully wishing Steve Jobs and Apple would fail and gloating gleefully at any minor misstep the company would make. Does anyone really want to emulate M$ drone behaviors? Those guys where shitheads!

    Let’s not be like that and wish Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City the best on their way to changing the world.

    And along the way we can cheer on Apple’s not so secret Project Titan.

    1. Don’t be surprised. Apple is the new Microsoft. The companies may evolve, brand names come and go, but the fanboy behavior is all predictable.

      Musk is the visionary leader that Apple does not have anymore.

      Note also that the current & former leaders of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and many other tech firms are actively engaged in high risk/high reward projects involving transportation, automation, and space exploration. They don’t shy away from letting people know that they are willing to take risks and learn. Apple does the exact opposite. Tim shuns the free publicity and goodwill-earning exposure that cutting edge science projects offer. Apple also puts very little of its cash into its own research. Apple is now an acquisition-based company, spending much more effort on marketing image. You know, because Beats is so great and innovative.

      I wish Musk all the best on his success. Such a shame Cook and his executive team doesn’t have any vision for the future that isn’t directly tied to the mandatory use of iCloud.

  5. Why can’t Apple seem to develop replacements for folks like Mr. Mansfield? I’d feel a lot better about the company if they were advancing people who can succeed at this disruption, vs those who only seem to succeed with evolutionary products.

    1. The entire organization is being run by salesmen, artists, and social activists. They seem to have lost their edge in product development, design for user, and basic engineering. Case in point: 2015 MacBook. Anyone can make an aluminum box with a single port and off-the-shelf internals. Did anyone at Apple bother to think about chip cooling and the constant throttling required to keep it from overheating? Nope. Did anyone at Apple think someone might need to charge and use data at the same time without hte use of a dongle? Nope.

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