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Ford Motor Co Poaches Former Tesla, Apple Car Exec to Lead its Connected Vehicle & Embedded Systems Development

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【Summary】Ford Motor Company announced on Tuesday that it hired Doug Field as its chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. Field is joining Ford from iPhone maker Apple Inc., where he most recently served as VP, Special Projects. Before joining Apple, Field was Senior Vice President, Engineering, at electric automaker Tesla.

FutureCar Staff    Sep 07, 2021 3:00 PM PT
Ford Motor Co Poaches Former Tesla, Apple Car Exec to Lead its Connected Vehicle & Embedded Systems Development
Ford's future vehicles will be connected and software-based.

Ford Motor Company announced on Tuesday that it hired industry veteran Doug Field as its chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. Field is joining Ford from iPhone maker Apple Inc., where he most recently served as VP, Special Projects. Before joining Apple, Field was Senior Vice President, Engineering, at electric automaker Tesla. 

Field will start in his new role immediately and will report directly to Ford President and CEO Jim Farley.

At Tesla, Field oversaw engineering of the Model 3 sedan. In April 2018, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that he had asked Field to manage the company's engineering and production while Musk remained focused on the launch of the Model 3 sedan.

However Field officially left Tesla in July 2018 after taking a brief leave of absence to return to Apple and join its secretive electric car project codenamed "Project Titian." Prior to rejoining Apple, Field spent five years at Tesla. He also worked at mobility company Segway. 

"Doug is one of the world's most respected engineering and product design leaders and has been a driving force behind breakthrough products across auto, tech and mobility, including at Apple, Tesla and Segway," Farley said. "His talent and commitment to innovation that improves customers' lives will be invaluable as we build out our Ford+ plan to deliver awesome products, always-on customer relationships and ever-improving user experiences. We are thrilled Doug chose to join Ford and help write the next amazing chapter of this great company." 

Ford is in the midst of a major transformation from gas-powered vehicles to electric and connected vehicles that are software based and capable of receiving over-the-air (OTA) software updates for the life of the vehicle. The first of these vehicles was the Mach-E electric SUV. Next spring, the fully-electric Ford F-150 Lightning will join Ford's electrified and connected model lineup. 

Ford said that Field will lead its "Embedded Software and Hardware" organization, which consists of Vehicle Controls, Enterprise Connectivity, Features, Integration & Validation, Architecture & Platform, Driver Assistance Technology and Digital Engineering Tools. 

Field will also lead development and implementation of Ford's new connected vehicle platform called "Blue Oval Intelligence" for Ford, Lincoln and Ford Pro vehicles to create intuitive and connected experiences for customers. This includes infotainment options, navigation, automated driver-assist technologies, connected services, as well as vehicle cybersecurity. 

Field will also help Ford develop scalable technology platforms that can be deployed across Ford's global vehicle lineup.

"I'm thrilled to be joining Ford as it embraces a transition to a new, complex and fascinating period in the auto industry," Field said. "It will be a privilege to help Ford deliver a new generation of experiences built on the shift to electrification, software and digital experiences, and autonomy. I'm committed to helping the team make those experiences seamless, delightful and continually advancing over time."

As an industry veteran, Field will also help Ford manage its relationships with key technology partners to improve quality and reduce costs.

At Ford, Field will work closely with Hau Thai-Tang, the automaker's chief product platform and operations officer, to create the next generation of Ford's connected products and experiences. Thai-Tang will continue to oversee Product Development, Purchasing, Design, Research & Advanced Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing and Ford Ion Park.

"Doug's track record of innovation and expertise with embedded systems will help Ford accelerate the development and implementation of our Blue Oval Intelligence tech stack," Thai-Tang said. "I'm excited to partner with and learn from Doug as we bring our Ford+ plan to life."

For Field, rejoining Ford after 28 years is a homecoming of sorts, as it marks the return to the company where he began his career as a development engineer from 1987 to 1993.

"I've always felt a deep connection to Ford. Ford products have been in my life as long as I can remember – F-150s on my dad's farm, a '65 Continental picking us up at my wedding and my thrill when I discovered the brilliant elegance in the design of the Model T," Field said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to help the team build the next generation of iconic Ford vehicles and prepare Ford for the next hundred years."

Field said his learnings and approach, which he developed over decades of product development across automotive, mobility and tech sectors will inform his work at Ford. 

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