Apple Inc. has recruited a longtime Ford Motor Co. executive who aided lead protection attempts and automobile engineering, a sign the Apple iphone maker is all over again ramping up growth of an electric car or truck.

The tech big hired Desi Ujkashevic for the automobile challenge, according to people with expertise of the issue. Ujkashevic experienced worked at Ford because 1991, most not long ago serving as its world-wide director of automotive safety engineering. Ahead of that, she helped oversee engineering of interiors, exteriors, chassis and electrical components for lots of Ford versions.

She has labored on Ford’s Escape, Explorer, Fiesta and Emphasis models, as nicely as the Lincoln MKC and Aviator, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also helped develop new EVs for Ford. She also has practical experience in regulatory problems essential to Apple receiving a vehicle on the street.

Ujkashevic was named to the Automotive Information 100 Top Ladies in the North American Vehicle Market in 2010 and 2015.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based organization declined to remark on the employ. Ford, in the meantime, claimed that Ujkashevic has retired from the automaker.

Enlisting Ujkashevic suggests Apple is continuing to thrust towards a self-driving automobile in spite of various significant-profile departures about the past 12 months. The project’s management staff has been pretty much fully changed because it was operate by Doug Field, an executive who remaining for Ford very last yr.

Setting up an electrical, self-driving auto is witnessed as a “next massive factor” for Apple — a new product class that can retain its income development from stalling. But the challenge has experienced many technique shifts and staff changes considering the fact that it kicked off all-around 7 yrs back.

Turnover has been especially heavy around the previous yr. Moreover the departure of Subject, Apple dropped important professionals in charge of components engineering, robotics and sensors. In some instances, large-position engineers left to sign up for traveling taxi startups.

Following Subject stop, the company appointed Apple View and health program head Kevin Lynch to oversee the task. Lynch is a nicely-regarded software engineering supervisor but has not beforehand led the progress of a car or truck. However, the enterprise has sought to speed up the challenge below Lynch — with the objective of announcing a solution by 2025.

An Apple automobile would put the business in level of competition with the likes of Tesla and Lucid, as very well as conventional automakers racing to introduce electrical cars. Apple also is trying to learn autonomous vehicles as section of the task — an auto-sector holy grail that tech organizations these as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo also have been grappling with.

The Apple vehicle has been in development because 2015 but Apple has struggled to settle on a eyesight for it. The hope is to make some thing completely autonomous and remove both the common steering wheel and pedals. The firm also has sought to emphasize safety with its vehicle.

To that finish, Apple is wanting to establish more robust safeguards than what is readily available from Tesla and Waymo. That features constructing in a good deal of redundancy — layers of backup programs that kick in to stay clear of protection and driving-method failures — Bloomberg reported previous calendar year. Ujkashevic could be included with that component. Apple had hired Jaime Waydo to serve as automobile safety leader in 2018, but the Waymo veteran departed very last calendar year.

Ujkashevic is now just one of the several senior professionals on Apple’s vehicle team to occur from the auto sector, but there are some many others.

Very last 12 months, Apple employed Ulrich Kranz, a previous BMW executive and onetime head of self-driving startup Canoo. Stuart Bowers, a previous Tesla executive who labored on self-driving computer software, and Jonathan Sive, an ex-supervisor at Tesla, Waymo and BMW, also are included.

At Ford, Ujkashevic was 1 of the company’s best-profile administrators, serving as a named govt on its internet site.

“Desi has a prosperity of global automotive marketplace leadership knowledge,” her biography reads on the Ford web-site. The company credited her with increasing items, high quality and the buyer expertise at the 118-calendar year-previous enterprise.

Automotive Information staff members contributed to this report.

By Tara