Apple Car pioneer leaving company for a major rival — VP of hardware engineering departs for Rivian

Apple Car concept
(Image credit: Vanarama)

Apple just lost the person who got the Apple Car rolling as another senior staff member quits to join a competitor.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s VP of hardware DJ Novotney has left for Rivian, the luxury electric car manufacturer. While not yet a competitor, the firm will be once (or if) Apple launches its car to the public.

Apple losing important staff

DJ Novotney was a key member of the Apple team, sticking with the Cupertino iPhone maker for 25 years. “He was instrumental in the development of several generations of the iPod and iPhone,” says Bloomberg, and there are some who say he was even in line to head up the development of the iPad.

“Great products are what we do best and I have been so very lucky along the way to be part of so many amazing teams that developed everything from iPod, iPhone, iPad, Watch and so many more. Apple has been my life, but now is the time for me to move on and help bring to life a new set of products.” reads a memo from Novotney that Bloomberg managed to get its hands on, sent out to fellow Apple employees.

After being brought on to help launch the Apple Watch, Novotney moved to get the Apple Car going — although he was soon shifted again when the Car project was reorganized after a series of setbacks. In his new role, he looked after home devices.

At Rivian, Novotney will be the senior vice president of vehicle programs. This new role will see him in charge of “product management for products and engineering”.

Apple has been seeing something of an exodus of some of its most important staff members over the last few years. The VP of product design on iPhone and Apple Watch, Tang Tan, is going to leave next month to join ex-Apple Jonny Ive’s design firm LoveFrom, and Steve Hotelling, ex-hardware technologies head left last year.

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.