Bob Mansfield has been with Apple since 1999.

Apple's secret automotive project, named "Project Titan," has taken a major step forward with the naming of long-time executive Bob Mansfield as project leader, reports The Wall Street Journal. After stepping down from Apple's executive board in 2013, Mansfield continued to work with Apple on special projects. One of which happened to include the Apple Watch. According to unnamed sources, Mansfield is now running the company's autonomous, electric-car project.

Mansfield joined Apple in 1999 and was one of the company's top executives under former chief executive Steve Jobs. After leaving Apple's executive team, Mansfield reported directly to CEO Tim Cook on special projects. During his stint, he led the hardware engineering development for multiple Apple products including the iMac, iPad, and the MacBook Air.

According to The Wall Street Journal's anonymous sources, all senior mangers on Project Titan are now reporting directly to Mansfield. The report claims Apple employees discovered the change earlier this month in the company directory.

The news comes after Apple hired the talent behind Harman's navigation system, Sinisa Durekovic, in June and invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing in May. With an experienced executive like Mansfield behind the wheel, Apple's car project could finally take off. Despite hiring various gurus from the automotive field, Apple has never publicly acknowledged that it's working on a car. Mansfield's new role solidifies Apple's continued efforts to create its own vehicle. An Apple spokesman did not immediately reply to a request from Autoblog for comment.


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