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Liam Denning

Ford Bites Apple for a Taste of Tesla

Poaching Doug Field signals the automaker is serious about transformation.

Increasingly electrified.

Increasingly electrified.

Photographer: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

The car business has a rich history of mavericks. Lee Iacocca brought Chrysler Corp. back from the brink in the 1980s. Alan Mulally mortgaged Ford Motor Co.’s blue oval to steer away from bankruptcy in 2008. Carlos Ghosn had that magic-trunk trick. When it comes to the new age of electrics and autonomy, Tesla Inc. can only be understood as an extension of Elon Musk.

So news that Doug Field has defected from Apple Inc.’s vehicle project to Ford, broken Tuesday by Bloomberg News, is a big deal. Field isn’t coming in as CEO, of course; he’ll report to Jim Farley as chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. But his pedigree in all the new stuff Farley wants Ford to lead in is formidable.