SAN FRANCISCO — Apple's car project has hit a speed bump, with its lead executive set to depart the tech giant, according to a report Friday. Steve Zadesky, the man who has overseen Apple's electric car initiative over the past two years, will be leaving the project and the tech company for personal reasons.
Zadesky has worked at Apple for the past 16 years and has been involved with numerous key projects, including the iPhone and iPod. Most recently, he was given the all clear by Apple to lead the tech giant into the automotive space, but his tenure will be coming to a close, said the Wall Street Journal, citing multiple unnamed sources who are "familiar with the matter."
It remains unclear when exactly Zadesky will be leaving the iPhone maker, but he recently began informing people of his plans, the Journal said. Though Apple has no intention of releasing a car of its own any time before 2019, Zadesky's departure is still a set back for the team. Zadesky's departure is not related to his performance, according to sources cited by the Journal.
The initiative started by Zadesky represents one of Apple's most ambitious projects going forward, moving away from strictly selling consumer electronics and taking on the ultimate mobile device. There have been reports that the team handling the project has run into issues laying out clear goals for the Apple car, and Zadesky's exit could further hamper those efforts.
News of Zadesky's departure comes at a trying time for Apple. Over the past year, the tech giant has seen its stock price fall by nearly 24 percent, from a high of $133 per share in February to $101.42 on Friday. The Nasdaq, the index on which Apple trades, has fallen by a more modest 10 percent during that same time period. Recent forecasts from key Apple suppliers also have investors worried that iPhone maker could report disappointing results in its latest quarterly earnings, set to be released Tuesday.
Apple's entry into the car market is setting up a bout amongst titans from multiple industries, ranging from Google's looming self-driving car, Uber and its secretive efforts, traditional automakers and their efforts to adopt the latest technologies and Tesla Motors, which has already been upending the auto industry.