(Pocket-lint) - One of the highly-regarded executives that helped make Apple what it is today has returned to the company to head up a secretive car project.

Bob Mansfield, who join Apple in 1999, has been appointed to oversee Project Titan, according to The Wall Street Journal, and all senior managers working on Apple's rumoured electric vehicle will report to him. The executive technically retired from his full-time post at Apple in 2012, but he stayed on in a minimal capacity and has made regular appearances on campus as an adviser.

He previously served as senior vice president of Technologies and worked on Apple's "Special Projects" team. He's also one of the few executives to frequently appear - with Jony Ive, Apple's design chief - in Apple's product videos, as he was instrumental in the development of Apple's most flagship products, including the MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Employees at Apple have apparently noticed in the company directory that all the senior managers on the car project have begun reporting to Mansfield, whereas Dan Riccio, senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, was thought to be overseeing Project Titan. Steve Zadesky also had a senior role on the project, leading one of multiple teams, but he left for personal reasons in 2014.

Project Titan is kind of a mix bag right now in terms of talent. Apple has reportedly recruited tonnes of people to work on Apple Car, the rumoured name for its vehicle, including engineers from Tesla, Ford, GM, and others. The electric vehicle should be ready to roll by 2021 and is currently being developed at an R&D facility in Sunnyvale, California, according to several reports.

Apart from being electric, the car is presumed to have a unique design and autonomous capabilities. You can read more speculation about the upcoming vehicle from Pocket-lint's rumour round-up.

Writing by Elyse Betters.