Apple Reportedly Imposes Hiring Freeze on 'Project Titan' Electric Car Team

The Apple Crystal BallApple has imposed a hiring freeze on the Project Titan electric car, an indication the company will be making changes in its electric car venture. According to unnamed sources at AppleInsider, Sir Jony Ive reviewed the project's and was displeased with its progress and direction.

This news comes comes just after The Wall Street Journal's report that Steve Zadesky, the project's lead, is leaving Apple. That report said Mr. Zadesky was leaving for personal reasons and wasn't being ousted—and my own sources have tentatively backed up that notion, but a hiring freeze says change is on the way.

The hiring freeze was sparked after a post-holiday review of Project Titan by Chief Design Officer Jony Ive. AppleInsider's sources said he had "expressed his displeasure" with the group's progress. It's conceivable that Mr. Zadesky's decision to leave Apple precipitated the review, but just as possible the review precipitated Mr. Zadesky's decision to leave.

Apple's management runs lean and mean, and top executives are generally believed to maintain a tight thumb on everything done at the company. If Sir Jony was displeased with Project Titan's progress, there's a good chance he is right to be concerned.

In addition, a hiring freeze seems necessary while Apple looks for a new person to lead Project Titan. Mr. Zadesky has overseen the hiring of roughly 1,000 people, including many engineers, and his replacement will no doubt want to put his or her stamp on new hires.

Apple has reportedly set a launch date for an elective car in 2019 or 2020. That timeline has been considered aggressive, on the charitable end, and unreachable, on the other. A change in leads and a hiring freeze is sure to have some kind of impact on Apple's timetable, though it remains to be seen what the effect will be.

Lastly, it's important to remember that Apple has never publicly acknowledged Project Titan or announced a time table. All of the information has come from the large team of people working on it, as well as such Silicon Valley competitors as Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. Oh, and through public disclosures for governmental and quasi-governmental organizations.