Ford reaches deep into Silicon Valley to recruit a new chief technology officer, hiring away a top executive from Apple to take over its efforts to build the connected car of the future.
Doug Field takes over immediately as Ford’s CTO, a position vacated when his predecessor, Ken Washington, accepted a job with Amazon.
At Apple, Field had been vice president-special projects, which put him close to the on-again, off-again, on-again Apple Car project, which is close to the heart of Apple CEO Timothy Cook, who says the automobile industry represents a potentially rich market for innovation.
Apple’s automotive strategy has never quite jelled, although the company’s patent filings indicate keen interest in the technology needed for self-driving cars.
Before joining Apple, Field was senior vice president-engineering at electric-vehicle market leader Tesla. Rejoining Ford, though, represents something of a homecoming for Field since he began his career with the automaker more than 30 years ago.
Field will report directly to Ford President and CEO Jim Farley, who has said he is eager to stretch and demonstrate Ford’s technical prowess.
“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 says.
Field is expected to work closely with Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer, on the creation 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, the company’s EV battery development center.
“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 says.
Field’s portfolio will include Ford’s Embedded Software and Hardware organization, which now includes Vehicle Controls, Enterprise Connectivity, Features, Integration & Validation, Architecture & Platform, Driver Assistance Technology and Digital Engineering Tools.
He will assume responsibility for leading design, development and implementation of the Blue Oval Intelligence tech stack for Ford, Lincoln and Ford Pro products, as well as recent Ford initiatives aimed at teaching customers directly with the goal of refining features, such as infotainment, navigation, driver-assist technology, connected services and cybersecurity.
Field will be responsible for managing relationships with key technology partners such as Ford’s ongoing partnership with Google and handling the development and distribution of over-the-air-updates, which are expected to become more important in the future.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Ford as it embraces a transition to a new, complex and fascinating period in the auto industry,” Field says.
“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,” he says. “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.”