From the Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. has tapped a highly-regarded senior executive who helped bring to market many of Apple's signature products to oversee its fledgling automobile project, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bob Mansfield had stepped back from a day-to-day role at the company a few years ago, after leading the hardware engineering development of products including the MacBook Air laptop computer, the iMac desktop computer, and the iPad tablet. Apple now has Mr. Mansfield running the company's secret autonomous, electric-vehicle initiative, code-named Project Titan, the people said.

Titan was previously under senior vice president of hardware engineering, Dan Riccio who took over part of Mansfield's duties at the top of Apple's hardware-based organization back in 2012. (Senior vice president of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji, took over platform architecture.)

Despite downshifting from his day-to-day responsibilities, Mansfield has still been seen regularly at Apple's Infinite Loop campus, and has remained involved with the company. Following a project review last month, it's been rumored Apple felt bringing Mansfield — who helped launch iMac, MacBook, iPhone and iPad — to what comes next, would give Titan a lead with both enormous experience and the benefit of singular focus.

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It seems like a win/win all around. And that's important at a place like Apple where senior vice presidents have plates already beyond full.

Beyond whether or not Apple ever ships a car, project Titan is incredibly important to Apple's culture and technology going forward. Even with Mansfield at the steering wheel, an Apple Car based on project Titan, isn't expected to launch for several or more years. What an Apple Car looks like, how autonomous it is, at which markets it's targeted, and how Apple will both sell and "sell" a car also remain fascinating questions.

Podcast: Apple Talk 3: Apple Car as a service with Gartenberg, Caldwell, Ritchie, and Dediu.