According to a recent report from the Wall Street JournalApple’s ongoing effort to design an electric car hit a significant snag with word that project head Steve Zadesky is planning to leave the company.

A former Ford engineer and longtime iPod and iPhone engineer, Zadesky had previously been tasked by Tim Cook to oversee all aspects of the company’s electric car development process.

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Notably, the report relays that Zadesky isn’t leaving due to any work performance issues, but rather for undisclosed personal reasons. Still, Zadesky’s departure has to be a significant blow for Apple’s automotive efforts. From what we’ve seen thus far, it’s fair to say that Zadesky was responsible for establishing the vision of what an Apple Car should be. In some respects, Zadesky may have been to the Apple Car what Scott Forstall was to the original iPhone.

All that aside, the Journal adds that Apple’s electric car initiative is not without its share of technical challenges.

The team has encountered some problems, according to people familiar with the matter, in laying out clear goals for the project. Apple has urged the team to push ahead with ambitious deadlines even though some on the team felt that those targets weren’t attainable, these people said.

While early reports indicated that Apple executives were aiming for a ship date sometime in 2019 or 2020, some engineers on Apple’s car team have reportedly said that “it might take several more years to get a differentiated electric car ready.”

As we’ve highlighted previously, developing an electric car may very well be the most daunting initiative Apple has ever undertaken.

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