The Apple Car Has Been Cancelled

Apple Car Eve Sports Car Concept 2 Credit: Alex Imnadze via Motor1
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It seems to be the week of the death of Apple legends. First, we heard that Apple may have scaled down its ambitions for AR glasses, and now it looks like the dream is over for the Apple Car.

Rumors of Apple’s plans to build its own autonomous vehicle have been circulating for the better part of a decade. While the project has had many scrapes, bumps, and missteps over the years, Apple always seemed to successfully course correct, and there’s been plenty of evidence that it was maintaining its focus on building an actual car.

Sadly, recent reports suggested that the mythic Apple Car wouldn’t be quite as magical as we’d once hoped. For years, the consensus was that Apple was trying to perfect a fully autonomous, self-driving vehicle. Still, after pouring an incredible amount of money and manpower into the project, it seems that some folks in the company’s upper echelons were getting impatient about the lack of results.

While Apple’s original goal was to produce a Level 5 vehicle — the brass ring of self-driving cars that don’t even need a steering wheel — by late 2022, the company had reportedly settled for achieving a Level 4 vehicle by 2026. However, that wasn’t a satisfactory timeline for Apple’s Board of Directors, who threatened to cancel the project entirely if it didn’t begin showing some results.

Last month, we heard that Apple’s car team had settled for a Level 2+ design instead — the same type of Automated Driver Assistance System (ADAS) found on Tesla and many other premium vehicles. This came after “a series of frenzied meetings” between the project team and Apple’s top brass, but it seems that even this wasn’t enough to placate the Board.

In breaking news today, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman shared that Apple has scrapped the project entirely. The Apple Car is now officially dead.

Apple Inc. is canceling a decade-long 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.

Mark Gurman

According to Gurman’s sources, the disclosure was made earlier today and came as a surprise to the nearly 2,000 employees assigned to the project. It was shared in a joint message from Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and Kevin Lynch, the former Apple Watch exec and Adobe Chief Technology Officer reassigned to head Project Titan in 2021.

The decision to ultimately wind down the project is a bombshell for the company, ending a multibillion-dollar effort that would have vaulted Apple into a whole new industry. The tech giant started working on a car around 2014, setting its sights on a fully autonomous electric vehicle with a limousine-like interior and voice-guided navigation.

Mark Gurman

While all hope now appears to be lost for the Apple Car, many of the employees in Apple’s Special Projects Group (SPG) who were working on it will be shifted to the artificial intelligence division under Senior VP John Giannandrea, where they’ll work on generative AI projects, which have become a much bigger priority in the new technology landscape.

However, not all team members will be as fortunate. While software engineers have other places to go, the team reportedly had “several hundred hardware engineers and car designers,” filling roles that may no longer have a place within Apple’s walls. Gurman says there will be layoffs, but it’s not yet clear how many.

During last month’s “make-or-break point,” the Apple Car team had reportedly proposed delaying the release until 2028, but only with Level 2+ technology rather than Level 4. However, Apple executives were skeptical that such a vehicle — even priced at $100,000 or more — would be able to deliver Apple’s typical profit margins, especially considering the hundreds of millions of dollars a year that Apple has already spent, and would continue to spend on an uncertain project. In the end, the Board of Directors decided to cut its losses and scrap the decade-long project entirely.

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