The executive worked on Ford’s Escape, Explorer, Fiesta and Focus models, as well as the Lincoln MKC and Aviator, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also helped develop new electric vehicles for the Dearborn, Michigan carmaker. And Ujkashevic has experience dealing with regulatory issues, something that will be key to Apple getting a car on the road. The Cupertino, Californian company declined to comment on the hire. Ford said Ujkashevic has retired from the carmaker.
Apple has hired a long-time Ford executive to help lead safety efforts and vehicle engineering, indicating that the iPhone maker is resuming development of an electric vehicle. According to people familiar with the situation, the tech titan hired Desi Ujkashevic for the car project. Ujkashevic had been a Ford employee since 1991, most recently as the company’s global director of automotive safety engineering. Previously, she oversaw the engineering of many Ford models’ interiors, exteriors, chassis, and electrical components.
Enlisting Ujkashevic suggests that Apple is continuing to push toward a self-driving car despite several high-profile departures over the past year. The project’s management team has been almost entirely replaced since it was run by Doug Field, an executive who left for Ford last year. Apple pushing ahead with development of fully autonomous car. The car business isn’t easy! Toyota chief’s warning to Apple. Volkswagen says its ‘not afraid’ of an Apple electric car, as Nissan denies talks. Volkswagen wants to challenge Google with its own autonomous car software. Microsoft teams up with GM to create autonomous electric cars to challenge Tesla
After Field quit, the company appointed Apple Watch and health software head Kevin Lynch to oversee the project. Lynch is a well-regarded software engineering manager but hasn’t led the development of a vehicle. The company has sought to accelerate the project under Lynch — with the goal of announcing a product by 2025. “Desi has a wealth of global automotive industry leadership experience,” her biography reads on the Ford website. The company credited her with improving products, quality and the customer experience at the 118-year-old company.“
Building an electric, self-driving car is seen as a “next big thing” for Apple – a new product category that can keep its sales growth from stalling. But the project has suffered numerous strategy shifts and personnel changes since it kicked off around seven years ago. Turnover has been especially heavy over the past year. Besides the departure of Field, Apple lost key managers in charge of hardware engineering, robotics and sensors. In some cases, high-ranking engineers left to join flying taxi start-ups.