Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 33 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals
51 comments

Apple Reportedly Cancels Electric Car Project

At Bloomberg, Mark Gurman writes:

Apple Inc. is canceling a decadelong effort to build an electric car, according to people with knowledge of the matter, abandoning one of the most ambitious projects in the history of the company.

Project Titan, as Apple’s electric car effort was known internally, started in 2014 and had a head count of nearly 2000 employees. Although I’m not aware of Apple ever publicly acknowledging Project Titan, its ups and downs have long been a mainstay of the Apple rumor mill. The fantasy of Apple bringing its hardware and interface chops to the automotive world was compelling, but its original vision of an autonomous car was too ambitious, and even the scaled-back plans would likely have resulted in an overly expensive car that wasn’t sufficiently different from the competition. Plus, no one dies when a Vision Pro crashes.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Gurman’s piece is the claim that many of the Project Titan employees will be shifted to Apple’s artificial intelligence division to focus on generative AI projects. Siri could use the help.

Read original article

Subscribe today so you don’t miss any TidBITS articles!

Every week you’ll get tech tips, in-depth reviews, and insightful news analysis for discerning Apple users. For over 33 years, we’ve published professional, member-supported tech journalism that makes you smarter.

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. The Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Comments About Apple Reportedly Cancels Electric Car Project

Notable Replies

  1. I hope to read the inside track book someday…if that could ever get past the NDAs.

  2. Back in 2007, the main players of the smartphone market were Microsoft, Blackberry, Palm, and Nokia. Apple brought forward the iPhone, caught them all flat footed, and they have all disappeared from the phone market.

    I think 2014 looked very similar. Tesla proved that electric vehicles could be compelling, but its survival was questionable. Autonomous driving appeared to be right around the corner. And the big car manufacturers had no interest in electric vehicles. It looked like a market ripe for interruption.

    Now in 2024, autonomous vehicles still look like far in the future. Tesla is now strong, and all the big manufacturers are going electric. There’s not much room for interruption any more.

    Look at the Iconiq 6 & 5 or the ID.Buzz. Is there something an Apple Car will add?

    I’m not 100% sure Apple was right to get into the research for a car back in 2014. It looked long shot to me. Then again, I thought Apple making its own computer processor was also a moonshot too. Maybe you just have to try these things to be ready to jump when needed.

    Apple is certainly making the correct move getting out of car research now.

  3. Tesla’s sales have been falling rather rapidly:

    The latest news about Aston Martin’s AV sales is not good at all:

    And consumer experiences among EV buyers has not been very positive:

    https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/more-alarm-bells-sound-slowing-demand-electric-vehicles-2023-10-25/

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-28/apple-cancels-its-electric-car-in-favor-of-ai-vision-pro

    Apple’s Vision Pro probably has better profit margins than an Apple Car would have.

  4. Tesla sales haven’t fallen. Their sales is actually 40% more in 2023 than 2022.

    Their market share has fallen because there are now so many more electric vehicles to choose from. They’ve also have lower revenues because they’ve cut prices.

    Although there are reports that EV sales are doing “poorly” and the EV boom is over, EV sales have been increasing steadily. They went from 5.3% of all vehicles sold to 8.3% of all vehicles sold from 2022 to 2023.

    The issue for the car companies is the difficulty moving production from ICE to BEV. The companies were hoping that big SUV sales in EVs would generate the profit needed to do the change over. This hasn’t proven to be too true. Smaller EV vehicles now seem to be the trend. It’s the Tesla Model 3 sedan and not the Tesla Model Y SUV that’s the biggest seller. The Chevy Bolt has had fantastic sales despite GMs attempt to kill it. They want you to buy that Hummer or the Cadillac. The Ford F150 Lighting and Mustang SUV haven’t done well. I bet a normal sized Mustang would have flown off the shelves.

    I am more attracted to the Iconiq 6 than the VW ID.4. And although the ID.Buzz is as cool as all out gets, I wish they’d import the ID.3.

  5. There’s also this:

    https://www.wsj.com/business/autos/electric-vehicle-demand-charts-7d3089c7

    https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/18/politics/emissions-rules-ev-growth-biden-administration/index.html

    Here’s the international situation:

    “ The 2024 forecast marks a slowdown in annual growth rates caused by the regulatory schedule in Europe, market saturation in China, US consumers facing high interest rates, slow embrace of EVs by the Big Three automakers in the US and Tesla failing to refresh its model lineup.:

    IMHO, it looks like Apple did the smart thing in backing away in the very volatile global EV market at this time.

  6. Some of that increase is due to tax incentives which are not available for ICE vehicles.

  7. I think the Apple decision has more to do with autonomous car (lack of) potential rather than demand for electric propulsion. As someone who has worked in vehicle safety for many years I have followed the patchy development of autonomous/self-driving cars for more than a decade:
    https://vdrsyd.com/mp/autonomous_cars.html

    I remain highly sceptical of the claims of safety, environmental and traffic benefits. They seem to assume that most human-driven cars will be replaced by self-driving cars. This will only happen in specialised situations, where ordinary cars are effectively excluded.

    In any case, I don’t see a widespread demand for self-driving cars. Most of the time people seem to like doing the driving - it makes us feel superhuman!

  8. I pay a fair amount of attention to the EV and robocar worlds, and I think Apple was faced with not being able to produce a car that would stand out in a significant way.

    Also, the “EV slowdown” seems to be something of a meme, but EV sales remain strong worldwide.

    US EV sales outpace the growth of the overall market and increase market share by 2%.

    China continues to sell record amounts.

    Europe expanded slightly, despite a December drop due to a “difficult compare” against the unusual 2022.

    Globally, EVs are about 16% of the overall market.

  9. This is something I predicted 2 years ago as vehicle manufacturing is an entirely different ball game from building phones and computers aside from all the government regulations. Apple was simply too late to have the become a successful venture. What is on the rise in sales and interest are hybrids that make a lot more sense as lithium batteries always been a medicore option for electric vehicles give the environmental impact of manufacture and disposal, fire issues, charging times, and cold weather affects. I am of the opinion that true electric vehicles will not be practical for the long term until significant battery advances are made, or super capacitor technology becomes practical and mainstream. Super capacitors can charge in minutes instead of hours and and will likely be much more environmentally friendly as they are free of toxic materials and do not rely on chemical changes for charging.

  10. I honestly can’t understand why Apple ever tried to develop a car and am glad it’s finally over. What a waste of resources and focus. It always struck me as someone’s passion project, which is why I could never understand why no one (Tim Cook? the Board?) stopped them pouring away billions of dollars. It’s fine to have a passion project when it’s an app for sports scores. It’s not when it’s something as massive and expensive as developing a car.

  11. I’m also glad this is over. Apple needs focus and a return to attention to detail. Not distraction and trying to do it all. I don’t want an Apple car any more than I want a GM phone. IMHO Apple’s footprint is more than big enough (and I really don’t care if every MBA disagrees with me on that). Now they should focus on improving all their existing stuff where it falls short. And get rid of all the crud they just can’t make work or work well. There’s plenty of modern day Ping still around AFAIC.

    Profitability for car manufacturers and their suppliers the last decade (apart from a Covid dip) has been hovering between 3% and 10%. It’s low margins, lots of competition and facing distribution that works nothing like the markets Apple knows. Why Apple would have thought they’re so much smarter and can do it so much better than the rest of the world such that they in this market turn their usual 30+% profits is beyond me. Hard to imagine it had nothing at all to do with leaderships’ egos clouding rational judgement.

  12. Wired posted an article on this subject. To me, the interesting part of the article was about CarPlay which I included below.

    RIP Apple Car. This Is Why It Died

    Any tech company moving into the auto space needs a manufacturing partner. But Apple’s EV died as it lived: alone.

    However, Apple still has a significant foothold in the automotive industry, thanks to its CarPlay infotainment system. Plenty of drivers prefer their iPhone’s car integration to the technology that automakers have built from scratch. Indeed, anticipation is increasing for the release this year in the US of the next generation of CarPlay, which dramatically increases functions of the Apple’s in-car UI, with control over multiple screens, camera integration, vehicle monitoring, climate control, and a wealth of driving-related data, including a vehicle’s average speed, fuel efficiency, and energy efficiency.

    And despite the global car industry being taken completely by surprise at Apple’s 2022 WWDC announcement of the significantly expanded features of new CarPlay—with many refusing to even comment on the software’s new abilities, much less confirm its adoption—most of the major players have now confirmed it will be coming to their vehicles. BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Buick, Chery, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Fiat, Land Rover, Lucid, Mercedes, Toyota, and many more have signed up.

    One indicator of the importance of CarPlay for auto OEMs comes from Hyundai Motor Group president Song Chang-Hyeon, a former Apple and Microsoft engineer who heads the group’s software development division. Song told WIRED at CES in January that his very first task after being appointed to the board in 2021 was to fix the glaring omission of wireless CarPlay integration in its vehicles, ensuring that untethered Apple access would finally appear in Kia’s new flagship, the all-electric EV9.

    Clearly, for Apple, “this is not the end. This is just the beginning of the game,” says Prasad, the automotive researcher. “This is a very exciting reset in so many different ways.”

  13. Remember when just about everyone thought there were so many absolutely crazy rumors flying around about Steve Jobs loosing his marbles if Apple would even try entering the mobile music business when Sony Walkman and a host of other very successful competitors had a stranglehold on the mobile music market?

    The automotive industry is extremely profitable across the globe. And as Doug said, the very successful Car Play has been a small, but profitable, toe in the market. My guess is that an Apple Car is currently on the shelf rather than totally murdered and irrevocably dead for ever more.

  14. I’ll take the contrary road here and say that Apple likely learned a lot about machine learning, automation, and robotic control over the last ten years that will surely lead to benefits in their core business (if it hasn’t already). Ten years ago it was a dice roll that fully automated driving would come quickly. It clearly didn’t, it still doesn’t seem to be, and after ten years it was time to stop trying. Building a standard set of vehicles that aren’t using automated driving clearly isn’t a good business plan for Apple, but if they had succeeded it may have been a great plan. And I really don’t think that this project distracted Apple from their core businesses all that much. As far as I heard, Apple used a lot of external hires for this project.

  15. Adam, have you looked at the Aptera? I have a reservation for the Launch Edition with projected delivery in 2025.

  16. I’d always kinda hoped the Apple Car and my ability to afford it would coincide…

    But hey, all I want is CarPlay really.

  17. From your lips (keyboard) to Tim Cook’s ear (screen).

  18. Cool! I am aware of it, though I hadn’t seen that they were shipping in 2025. It’s a truly fascinating design, and I’m looking forward to when I can try one in person.

    Since our current cars are 2015 models that just predated CarPlay for those models, me too. :slight_smile:

  19. And I just got email from a PR person about the upcoming Sony/Honda AFEELA, which is in the running for dumbest car name I’ve heard yet. It has some interesting ideas, and it will be interesting to see what actually ships in 2026.

  20. Also the dumbest steering wheel - another car using an airplane-like yoke instead of a round wheel. I have been a pilot for most of my life and believe yokes belong in airplanes and round wheels belong in cars.

  21. I noticed that the Aptera has a yoke-style steering wheel too. I’ve been at the controls in small planes so little that I have little sense of why it’s not a good approach for cars. Can you explain?

  22. For maneuvering in tight spaces a round wheel makes much more sense. When I learned to drive, I was taught the hand over hand approach of turning the wheel when parking and the yoke has a large air gap which makes that difficult.

    Consumer Reports severely downgraded the newer Teslas for the steering yoke. They thought it was awkward and dangerous, if I remember right.

    On an airplane, extreme movements of the yoke are never used - they can precipitate a stall. The yoke determines the rate of bank (mathematically, the time derivative), not the actual bank angle. After dialing in the bank angle you neutralize the yoke to prevent the plane from doing a complete 360 degree roll.

  23. What’s shown looks interesting, but I also disapprove of the yoke-style controls. It’s going to be really hard to turn a sharp corner or to maneuver into a tight parking spot without a full wheel as the steering controls.

    I like the glass cockpit. Hopefully Sony’s UI experts will come up with a good design. I wonder if it will support Apple’s concept CarPlay system.

    I do not, however, like the fact that there appear to be no physical controls on the dash. I think certain things, like basic entertainment settings (volume, skip forward/backward) and basic climate settings (fan, temperature, blower positions) should be physical buttons with distinct feels so you can manipulate them while driving without having to look at them.

    Unfortunately, the entire industry seems to be embracing this nonsense. Presumably because it costs nothing for software to put another touch-location on a screen, but knobs actually cost money. Why not jeopardize safety in order to save $5 on a $60,000+ vehicle?

  24. Tesla eliminated the stalk-controls for wipers and lights? So we’re now expected to unlearn 50 years of muscle memory? For what? So the car looks good in a magazine’s photo shoot?

  25. I travel frequently for business, so I rent vehicles often.

    On the positive side, I get to see a variety of vehicles and their approaches to “innovation.”

    On the negative side, I get to see a variety of vehicles and their approaches to “innovation.”

    While I can’t think of specific brands off the top of my head, Tesla is by no means the only manufacturer to experiment with alternative placement or design of basic controls. The problem seems to be getting worse, especially as manufacturers seem to be moving away from physical controls and towards display-based, software-driven control interfaces.

    For the last decade or so, I often find that I have to spend a few minutes to orient myself to the basic controls when picking up a rented car, including even the location of ignition buttons. Don’t get me started on seat adjustments! I doubt I had to “orient myself” once in my first 10-15 years of renting vehicles.

    PS. Who here remembers floor switches for high-beam headlights?

    /Old Man Rant Over

  26. I am afraid that I remember well foot switches for high beams. It was my introduction to the concept of a control which “toggles” - one press for on and a second press of the same button for off. Later on, it helped me understand circuits employing flip-flops.

  27. I haven’t put careful thought into which controls should be physical and which can be glass, but it always seems to me that the people designing glass interfaces haven’t been to a part of the world where it gets cold in the winter and where you drive with gloves on, at least until the car warms up.

    I adore the heated steering wheel in our Nissan Leaf, but I still leave my gloves on for at least the first part of every trip in the winter here in upstate New York.

    At least the touch-sensitive things on the screens in the Leaf and our Subaru Outback respond to pressure, so they can sort of be operated with gloves on.

  28. We bought a car last year. Our intent was to get a 2023 model but they had already made the switch to 2024 models. I took one look at the dash and realized that all the buttons, dials, etc. had been replaced by a giant screen. We took the vehicle for a test drive. While my wife was driving I was trying to figure out how to adjust things. I don’t understand how they expect a driver to deal with this and still maintain attention to the road.

    We walked around the lot and found a lightly-used 2023 model with real buttons and dials. Bought it and could not be happier.

  29. I do like being able to adjust my 2010 VW air/heat settings without looking at them. A few familiar knob twists and I’m done.

  30. Heck, I remember floor switches for the starter motor.

  31. I don’t remember that, but I remember wondering why major brands had the wiper switches and turn signals on opposite sides of the driver’s wheel. It was things like that that made me drive around the parking lot after I rented a car so I didn’t get in trouble. I am amazed how many stupid things the new car companies are doing.

  32. Our early cars had a choke, a sliding knob that would regulate the flow of petrol into the engine, like you get on a petrol mower or a generator. You would have to get the vehicle up to driving speed.

  33. Wow. Lots of people much older than myself here. :slight_smile:

    I don’t recall any vehicles where the stalk-mounted controls were reversed, but I definitely remember cars where there were different functions:

    • Left-stalk was always turn signals
    • I remember headlights being a knob on the dash (lower-left). Pull out one stop for parking lights. Pull out all the way for headlights. Floor button to toggle high beams. Usually also multiplexed with the interior lights - rotate to dim the dash lights. Rotate one “click” beyond the end to turn on the interior dome light.
    • I also remember windshield wipers being on the dash. The vehicles that did that had a horizontal slider for off/low/high (no intermittent or mist settings). Press the slider in to pump washer fluid.
    • I also remember (60’s and 70’s Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth) where the parking brake was a handle on the lower-left, just below the dash. Pull out to engage. Rotate 90 degrees and push in to disengage.
    • And of course, the stalk-mounted automatic transmission shifter. Which seems to have been mostly universal up until the point where manufacturers eliminated front-row bench seats for bucket seats. That’s when the automatic shifter and parking brake moved to the center.
  34. Before you get too sentimental about old cars see this crash test:

  35. I don’t think anyone believes old cars are safer. But “better” is a subjective term that incorporates a lot of factors beyond safety, and some aspects of modern cars are worse than they were in the past.

    Repairability and upgradability both come to mind. It’s pretty much impossible to tune or perform major repairs on a modern engine without a lot of advanced diagnostic equipment. And you can’t generally upgrade the entertainment system at all (and for those where you can, doing so may cripple several unrelated systems because the same UI screen is used for far more than just controlling the radio).

    But it’s not like the choice is between 2024 designs and 1959. There are quite a lot of cars from the 80’s and 90’s that have most of today’s safety design features and are much easier (and more fun) to maintain, repair and upgrade.

    I’ve occasionally joked about getting a 1991 Chevy Prizm (my first car), restore the interior and exterior and swap out the engine for something with around 200 horsepower (vs the 85 it came with). I would probably really like driving that vehicle today. I’m sure there are garages that can do this, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to pay for it. :slight_smile:

  36. It’s an interesting discussion – the crash test stuff implies that car safety is all about surviving the accident. It seems like it’s more than that, as well – not getting into the accident in the first place seems a part of safety as well. In this, newer cars have some features that make them safer than older cars (better tires, brakes, headlights) but some things that may make them worse (more internal distractions, worse control UI, heavier weight, more powerful engines). It’d be interesting to see a comparison.

  37. With you all the way.

    I cannot understand why anyone would think a center console is an essential part of an automobile. To me, it’s just wasted space. My '95 Dodge Caravan was a delight to drive on long trips, with a small cooler sitting between the two front seats. If necessary, in a pinch, I could move from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat or the rear seats without opening a car door. While I hardly ever did that, a center console offers nothing that justifies removing that marginal benefit. My opinion, of course.

    Done all three (tune, major repair, upgrade), plus replaced a failed speedometer and cruise control, and added a trailer brake controller, and I agree completely. (The engine stuff I can understand is due to pollution control requirements.)

  38. This seems like a good time to mention the utility of an OBD (on-board diagnostic) code scanner. As vehicles become more computerized, many diagnostics become accessible to people who are “technically” inclined, even if they are not “mechanically” inclined.

    For example, one of my vehicles started running very poorly, and the dashboard’s “check engine” light turned on. I read the diagnostic codes with my OBD scanner, and most of the likely issues associated with those codes would have involved expensive repairs, except for one: a faulty gas cap. Before taking the vehicle to a repair shop, I purchased a new gas cap for $12, and that fixed the problem. My local mechanic charges a minimum of $75 to diagnose a vehicle. I paid around $60 for my OBD scanner, so it paid for itself with that one incident.

    I do like scanning my vehicle to anticipate likely recommendations from the mechanics before I bring it into the shop. My particular model also includes a live graphical display of certain engine readouts, which can be fun to watch. Note that sometimes there can be differences in the readings from different scanners, especially between entry-level consumer readers and “pro” tools. Readings also can be misleading to someone without experience (sort of like googling for medical symptoms vs a doctor’s personal experience), but generally they can be very useful tools.

    Decent consumer-level scanners can be as inexpensive as US$25, and devices with better graphics and other useful options can go up to around $75. Unless you have a very specific requirement, there’s probably not much reason for a casual home user/mechanic to spend more than that. Some scanners support Bluetooth and even WiFi, and some come with smartphone apps, but those can be finicky. I wouldn’t recommend a scanner that can’t be used in a standalone mode. Also, before buying a scanner, be sure it supports your particular vehicle. It’s usually not a problem, but some devices have more limited features.

  39. That article points out that physical controls requirements (for stuff such as turn signals, horn, flashers, etc.) will only be required to get the maximum safety rating (from a non-government body) but is not a legal requirement.

    Frankly, how such instruments could have been allowed to go solely on a screen, possibly hidden away in a menu or sub-panel is beyond me. IMHO it’s criminally negligent of regulators to allow such crucial instrument control to be hidden away from quick blind reach in the first place. How long until this madness is undone, by legislative force if necessary?

  40. My first car was a 1962 Rambler American (far from new), and it had the wiper controls on the dashboard, a knob which you could turn from zero to top speed. It was powered by an air pump of some kind off the engine or exhaust, which let adjust the wiper speed continuously. That’s actually a very nice feature because rain downfall varies quite a bit, and it’s hard to manage drizzle when you only have intermittent, slow and fast wipers. One of my college buddies was an EE who wired up a circuit to do the same electrically. I have been disappointed that the car makers never took up that approach.
    The air-powered wipers did have a problem. If you stepped on the gas to speed up, the pressure dropped, and the wipers slowed or sometimes stopped. It was a very interesting experience when I was driving uphill in a deluge on a Los Angeles freeway and the wipers stopped.

    The worst automotive kluge I remember was the pushbutton automatic transmission on my wife’s mother’s circa 1960 Plymouth (I think).

  41. Variable assisted steering in EVs make steering a breeze at low speeds and also at high speeds. Tesla has taken steering to a new level with steering by wire, which is likely to be picked up by all vehicle manufacturers.

  42. I hope not. There have been many complaints of how Tesla put gear-changing on the screen, and it has been blamed for the accident that killed Angela Chao when she accidentally hit reverse and her Tesla backed into a pond. There are very good reasons to want a tactile gear shift that the driver does not have to look at to shift gears.

  43. Biggest reason was that she was drunk as a skunk…0.23 I think it was but way over the limit.

  44. I was wondering about that. Earlier reports had mentioned the group was drinking. The new report says her blood alcohol was 0.233, which is nearly three times the legal limit, and cameras showed her walking unsteadily and the car lurching once she started driving it.

    It’s a shame the Tesla couldn’t sense she was drunk and take her home.

  45. I’m surprised she was even able to walk to and get in her car at 0.23.

    It’s a shame that despite all the fancy doohickeys that apparently have to go into cars these days (the new E class can take selfies of you while driving :roll_eyes:), there is still no regulation requiring IIDs be standard on all new cars put into circulation.

    I know in some EU countries professional drivers are required to have them. There’s no reason anybody that intoxicated should be allowed to set a car in motion. If we can put lidars on cars, we sure as heck should be able to put reliable IIDs in there.

  46. Worst still, the Tesla Y “gear lever” is on the steering column, exactly where the turn signal lever is on some cars (right hand). I recently was with a friend who picked up a new Model Y. On leaving yard she operated the gear lever instead of the turn signals. She stuck some soft foam on the lever as a reminder.
    Crazy UI IMHO!

Join the discussion in the TidBITS Discourse forum

Participants

Avatar for ace Avatar for Simon Avatar for tommy Avatar for silbey Avatar for jeff1 Avatar for romad Avatar for m.hedley Avatar for jzw Avatar for neil1 Avatar for ddmiller Avatar for mpainesyd Avatar for MMTalker Avatar for jweil Avatar for doughogg Avatar for david19 Avatar for Will_M Avatar for fischej Avatar for Shamino Avatar for jk2gs Avatar for josehill Avatar for david_blanchard Avatar for warrennn