Apple’s autonomous electric car project dead – report

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It was arguably the most ambitious project the company has ever taken on, but after a decade and billions of dollars invested, Apple has finally axed its autonomous electric car.

After a decade and billions of dollars, US tech giant Apple has made the decision to cancel its electric car project.

According to a report from business news outlet Bloomberg – written by well-regarded tech journalist Mark Gurman – this week Apple announced the car project was being axed to the almost 2000 employees assigned to the project.

The Apple car – known internally by the codename ‘Project Titan’ within the Special Projects Group – had aimed to bring a revolution to the automotive industry, with ground-breaking Level 5 autonomous driving technology allowing the steering wheel and pedals to be deleted from the vehicle.

In late 2022, it was reported Apple had lowered expectations for its autonomous driving technology from Level 5 to Level 4 – in which the car would be capable of driving itself in most environments, but with a steering wheel and pedals in place for the driver to take control in certain circumstances.

While the vehicle was due to be launched in 2026 – with the project initially beginning in 2014 – a recent report claimed the timeline had been pushed to 2028, and its autonomous driving tech had again been downgraded from Level 4 to Level 2+.

Level 2+ is the umbrella term for semi-autonomous features that include radar cruise control and lane-centering assist, found on many brand-new cars on sale today.

Company insiders had revealed it was “make-or-break point” for the project in recent weeks, telling Bloomberg “either the company is finally able to deliver this product with reduced expectations, or top executives may seriously reconsider the project’s existence.”

According to the latest report, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and Kevin Lynch – a vice president heading the electric car division – made the decision to axe the project.

Previous reports claimed Project Titan had two secret offices – headquartered at an unsigned location near Apple’s Cupertino campus in the US, and a second laboratory in Berlin, Germany. It’s also understood Apple bought a former Chrysler proving ground in Arizona, paying $US125 million ($AU168 million) for the site in 2021.

Bloomberg claims there will be layoffs following the decision, though many employees will be reassigned to Apple’s artificial intelligence division.

Apple was expecting to have to price the electric car from $US100,000 – or roughly the same amount as a range-topping Mercedes-Benz S-Class – however board executives were reportedly concerned about the vehicle delivering a worthwhile profit, particularly with hundreds of millions of dollars being invested each year in its development.

In 2021, a report claimed Apple was edging closer to an agreement with LG Magna e-Powertrain – a joint venture with South Korean tech giant LG Electronics and Canadian automotive company Magna – to supply batteries and electric motors, as well as potentially building the vehicle on Apple’s behalf in North America.

At the time, it was reported Apple was aiming to unveil its prototype in early 2024.

Prior to, Apple was said to be exploring a relationship with Hyundai, before the South Korean car maker confirmed the iPhone company had “paused talks”.

While the vehicle’s cancellation has yet to be confirmed by Apple, if true, it marks the end of arguably the most ambitious project from the US tech giant, with billions of dollars having been sunk into its development over the past decade.

Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than two decades. Ben began writing professionally more than 15 years ago and was previously an interstate truck driver. He completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021 and is considered an expert on classic car investment.

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