Apple's Key Electric Car Program Executive Is Departing

Steve Zadesky, who has been leading Apple's electric car program, will leave the company for personal reasons, according to a report.  

Apple, electric cars, Steve Zadesky, Apple car, Google self-driving cars, iPod, iPhone

Steve Zadesky, the Apple executive who has been spearheading the company's electric car program for the last two years, is reportedly leaving Apple in the near future for personal reasons.

Zadesky's imminent departure was reported Jan. 22 by The Wall Street Journal based on information from sources who are familiar with the matter, according to the newspaper. Zadesky apparently told some people about his pending departure, the article said. No timeline was given for Zadesky's final day with Apple, but his departure is due to personal reasons, the sources told the paper.

Apple did not immediately respond to an eWEEK inquiry about Zadesky's departure.

Zadesky, who has been with Apple for 16 years, has been working on the Apple electric car program since 2014. He formerly was an engineer with Ford Motor Co. until being employed by Apple in 1999, The Journal reported.

At Apple, Zadesky has tripled the size of the company's staff that works on automotive initiatives, giving it a head count of about 600 today, The Journal reported. "The team has encountered some problems, according to people familiar with the matter, in laying out clear goals for the project," the newspaper reported. "Apple has urged the team to push ahead with ambitious deadlines even though some on the team felt that those targets weren't attainable, these people said."

Zadesky also previously worked inside Apple in the company's iPod and iPhone projects, the paper reported.

Apple's automotive project is still in its early stages. In September 2015, reports continued to circulate that the company was looking closely at building electric cars by 2019 and that it is was committing itself to the effort, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

The plans began moving forward more than a year after the company began early discussions about an Apple car, and the project was given a code name—Titan. Apple has also been eyeing self-driving cars in a separate venture like its rival Google, but the electric cars are not being seen specifically as driverless cars.

For Apple, building any kind of vehicle could be a challenge since they are filled with a large number of systems that are not in the consumer products company's fields of expertise, such as engines, suspensions and more.

On the other hand, Apple is flush with cash—more than $178 billion in 2015—and can pretty much afford to do whatever kinds of research and development it wants to try.

Back in February 2015, the first reports about Apple looking at building electric cars began to surface, according to an earlier eWEEK article, as the company continues to explore new business opportunities outside its core consumer technology and computer, tablet and smartphone businesses.

Apple, at the time, was in the process of hiring about 200 people from inside Apple and from potential competitors like Tesla to develop technologies for an electric car, according to reports. Some of those hires were revealed in a lawsuit filed against Apple in February 2015 in Massachusetts federal court that alleged that Apple embarked on an aggressive campaign in June 2014 to poach employees from A123 Systems, a Livonia, Mich., company that makes electric car batteries.