Apple Rehires Former Tesla Engineer, Triggering Car-Production Speculation

Those Apple Car rumors just won't die.

Matthew Roberts

Apple rehired Doug Field, an engineer who spent the last five years working for Tesla, Reuters reported. The move reignited speculation that Apple is developing its own car.

Field worked for Apple as vice president of Mac hardware engineering, before decamping to Tesla for what became a five-year spell as senior vice president of engineering. In his return to Apple, Field will work with Bob Mansfield, who currently leads the company's self-driving car technology program. Field and Mansfield previously worked together on Mac hardware.

The rehiring of Field after five years at an automaker, and Apple's plan to pair him with autonomous-driving tech boss Mansfield, has been painted by some media reports as a hint that Apple may build its own car. The possibility of a so-called "Apple Car" has generated volumes of gossip and speculation, but Apple revealed little about its automotive plans.

CEO Tim Cook said Apple is currently working on autonomous-driving technology systems, and the company has a fleet of test cars operating in California, but Apple has not confirmed plans for an actual production car. It's possible that, like Alphabet's Waymo division, Apple will develop the systems to bring autonomous technology to cars and apply it to vehicles from existing manufacturers.

Court documents indicated Apple's self-driving tech car program, known as "Project Titan," was quite large. As part of a recent lawsuit that alleged a former employee stole trade secrets, Apple said about 5,000 employees were "disclosed" on the program, meaning they were at least aware of its details. The company considered 2,700 workers to be "core employees" on Project Titan.