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Ford taps former Apple exec for hands-free driving project

Former Apple executive Peter Stern

Peter Stern, who previously oversaw Apple TV+ and iCloud, is to be the new president of a Ford division that stops short of being for self-driving cars, but wants to make driving more hands-free automatic.

Stern spent six years at Apple, becoming vice president of Services and reporting to Eddy Cue, who he had reportedly been tipped to replace. He left the company in January 2023, apparently telling colleagues he wanted to spend more time on the East Coast.

Now he's been named the head of the new Ford Integrated Services division, which according to Ford, is concerned with "valuable software-enabled customer experiences," in the Ford Blue, Model e, and Ford Pro ranges.

"I love creating new services businesses and this is the perfect chance to do just that," Stern said in a statement. "The auto industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, from gas engines to electric vehicles and from human to autonomous driving."

"At the same time, the basis for differentiation is shifting from the vehicles alone to the integration of hardware, software and services," he continued. "I'll be in the middle of something truly historic and am particularly fortunate to do that at Ford, which has been democratizing automotive technology for 120 years and counting."

"You couple that with the Ford family's involvement in the business and commitment to doing the right thing in the long term and this is really where I belong," he concluded.

Stern is tasked specifically with building out Ford's BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system and its productivity and safety features. He's also going to "imagine and deliver exciting new high-value services."

Separately, Ford announced in May 2023 that its in-car services would continue to support CarPlay, even as rival GM is phasing Apple's system out of its next cars.