Decade-Long Electric Apple Car Project Canceled
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Decade-Long Electric Apple Car Project Canceled

Neon reflected car next to Apple iphone
  • Apple, known for its computers and iPhones, announced it was closing its Apple Car division, called “Project Titan,” in February 2024.
  • The company shifted many people in the 2,000-person Project Titan team to the artificial intelligence division.
  • Controversy over autonomous vehicle safety was a concern with the all-electric Apple car’s shift from fully autonomous to a driver-controlled version.

iPhone maker Apple announced the closure of its Apple Car division in February 2024. The iconic electronics company, known for its innovative computers and phones, announced an electrified Apple car over a decade ago. The project, code-named “Project Titan,” had seen controversy, significant financial losses, and uneven progress.


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The company shifted many people in the 2,000-person team working on the Titan project to the company’s artificial intelligence division. Apple has reportedly been behind the curve in incorporating AI, with tech giants Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft currently leading the AI industry. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Apple is launching generative AI features “later this year,” while rumors abound that the company is testing AI updates for Spotlight and Xcode.


Steve Jobs, Former Apple CEO, Reportedly Considered Working on Apple Car

Image of next-generation CarPlay care of Apple

Apple kicked off its self-driving electric car effort as a wave of interest in self-driving vehicles swept through Silicon Valley ten years ago. The tech firm has been talking about the idea of making a car since 2008 when Steve Jobs first reportedly considered it. The year 2008 was when Tesla’s Roadster was released. During this time, Google was working on its own driverless cars.

Apple’s concept car changed from a radical, steering-wheel-free autonomous vehicle to a more traditional one with a steering wheel. The revamped concept incorporated advanced driver-assistance features instead. The Apple auto division was considering releasing its proposed car as soon as 2024 or 2025. Apple had driven over 45,000 miles in 2023 using the vehicle’s autonomous driving tech.


Self-Driving Struggles Have Troubled Multiple Car Companies

Car companies using self-driving functionality have had massive problems recently. Tesla’s self-driving software has had significant controversy. The self-driving electric car may need to be shelved for now.

Self-driving car companies Cruise and Waymo have released studies saying their vehicles are involved in far fewer crashes than human drivers and are much more safe. However, after multiple accidents, GM’s autonomous project Cruise is now facing government investigations, fines that could total millions, and an uncertain future, as GM has pulled millions in funding. Cruise has laid off a quarter of its staff and recalled and grounded all of its cars nationwide, a total of nearly 1,000 vehicles.

It’s unclear how much the self-driving controversy, most notably Cruise’s struggles, affected Apple’s decision to pull the Apple Titan electric car. It’s clear, however, that American citizens may not be ready for self-driving technology, including the Apple electric car.


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Building a Car Is Vastly More Difficult Than Computers or Phones

The prospect of building a car is immensely different and more difficult than building computers and small devices such as phones. This could have been the reason for the demise of the Apple Titan project. Tesla is an example of how complex the process is to become a new automaker. 

In December 2008, Tesla was on the brink of financial collapse. At the time, the then-5-year-old company had sold only 1,500 of its Roadsters. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program provided Tesla with $465 million, giving Tesla a lifeline at a crucial time.


Low-Priced Chinese EVs Are a Growing Concern

BYD Dolphin
Image care of BYD

Apple could have been considering the Chinese EV problem when making its decision. Tesla is successful as of 2024 but is facing significant hurdles over the next few years as low-cost, high-quality Chinese EVs flood the global market. These have stayed out of the U.S. for now due to trade barriers and political tensions.

However, that doesn’t mean U.S. companies should get complacent. As Chinese EVs continue to take over the global market, U.S. companies will become less competitive every year on the global stage, which is important for any original equipment manufacturer. 


Sony Has Its Own Autonomous EV on the Horizon

Similar to Apple’s Titan project, electronics company Sony is continuing to work with Honda to open pre orders for their electric cars with autonomous features in North America next year ahead of a rollout in 2026.


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AUTHOR: 

BILL PIERCE

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