Apple’s attempt to venture into the automotive market with a self-driving electric car, has reportedly been cancelled.

Bloomberg’s noted Apple leaker Mark Gruman, quoting people with knowledge of the matter, reported that Apple is abandoning its ambitious electric car plans – otherwise known as Project Titan.

Although never officially confirmed, it was widely reported that Apple had been working on its electric car venture ever since 2014, and has spent billions of dollars on the project.

Project Titan axed

Gruman’s Bloomberg report stated that Apple had made the termination disclosure internally on Tuesday, surprising the nearly 2,000 employees working on the project, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the announcement wasn’t public.

The decision was shared by Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and Kevin Lynch, a vice president in charge of the effort, according to the people.

The Project Titan team was understood to still be years away from producing a fully autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel and pedals.

According to the Bloomberg report, many Project Titan employees will be moved to Apple’s artificial intelligence (AI) division, as the iPhone maker seeks to ramp up its generative AI efforts and capabilities.

Slowing demand

The cancellation comes amid waning demand for electric vehicles, amid ongoing geopolitical tensions and uncertain economic conditions, coupled with high borrowing costs.

One of the world’s largest car makers, Toyota, has repeatedly expressed caution about the move to EVs, and recently US motor industry giants Ford and General Motors have postponed plans to expand their EV production capabilities.

Meanwhile electric truck maker Rivian announced last week it will axe 10 percent of its workforce, and warned it did not expect to grow its production this year.

And Tesla last month had warned that its sales growth would be weaker this year than in 2023, and cut prices in key markets, amid tough competition from Chinese rivals such as BYD.

Elon Musk on X (formerly Twitter) tweeted his response to the news that the Apple EV project was being wound down with emojis of a salute and a cigarette.

Long journey

The cancellation comes after a decade of work at Apple. Ever since 2014, Apple was rumoured to be releasing an electric car sometime in 2019.

Rumours were strengthened in July 2015 when CEO Tim Cook was in spotted in Germany, amid reports that Apple was close to agreeing a partnership with BMW.

Apple was reportedly at the time going to use the BMW i3 vehicle as the basis for its ‘Apple Car’.

That partnership would have solved the manufacturing issue, as Apple doesn’t actually make its own devices. Most of its iPhones for example are made by a third party (Foxconn etc).

Car makers on the other hand have their own purpose-built factories and build their own products, and the BMW tie up would have solved Apple’s lack of experience in building actual vehicles.

But when 2019 arrived (the year when its first car was expected) Apple actually scaled back its ambitions at Project Titan, and laid off 190 people from the team.

Then in December 2020 it was reported that Apple had set 2024 as the deadline to produce a passenger vehicle, with a new battery design to ‘radically’ reduce cost and increase range.

But in September 2021, respected car industry veteran Doug Field, who was vice president of special projects at Apple and in charge of Project Titan, departed the iPad maker.

Prior to that in February 2021, South Korean car maker Hyundai (which includes Kia) said it was not in talks with Apple to develop self-driving cars, despite media speculation at the time.

Then in November 2021 Apple once again delayed the arrival of its car to a target date of 2025.

Interesting details about Apple’s car were revealed in December 2021 after an investigation of it’s patent filings, by the popular YouTube channel CarWow.

For example, Apple patented the idea of placing a OLED screen along the width of the car itself on both sides, creating a changeable display (or wallpaper) visible to people outside the vehicle.

But in December 2022 it was reported that Apple had scaled back its plans for an self-driving electric vehicle, and had again pushed back the car’s target launch date to 2026.

Now in February 2024, the end of the road seems to have arrived for Apple’s ambitious Project Titan.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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