Tesla has poached Apple’s Doug Field, who led the development of the most recent MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iMac computers, to be its new VP of Vehicle Programs and lead the development of new electric cars. Field, who describes Tesla as “the first high tech auto company in modern history,” joined Apple in 2008 as vice president of product design.
“Tesla’s future depends on engineers who can create the most innovative, technologically advanced vehicles in the world” car company founder Elon Musk said of the new VP. “Doug’s experience in both consumer electronics and traditional automotive makes him an important addition to our leadership team.”
“Until Tesla came along, I had never seriously considered leaving Apple,” Field himself admitted. “I started my career with the goal of creating incredible cars, but ultimately left the auto industry in search of fast-paced, exciting engineering challenges elsewhere”
While most recently involved in computers, Field actually began his career at Ford as a development engineer. In addition to stints at Johnson & Johnson Medical, Field was also the VP of design and engineering at Segway for nine years, and before then chief engineer on the IBOT program for more than two years.
Tesla has been relatively tight-lipped on new models, though a few details on the company’s roadmap are known. The Tesla Model X will be an EV SUV expected to launch in 2014, for instance, complete with eye-catching gullwing doors.
However, Musk has also teased a Tesla Roadster replacement not to mention a compact crossover, plus trucks and self-driving cars. Meanwhile there are whispers of a more affordable sedan, potentially the Tesla Model E, expected to be more akin to the BMW 3-Series in size.
Despite the ambitions, Tesla has also been stung recently by questions around its cars safety, after an accident led to a Model S’ battery pack catching fire. Musk was quick to respond to the controversy, arguing that the incident was atypical for a crash, and pointing out that the resulting fire was relatively small-scale in comparison to how a traditional gas-powered vehicle might have fared.