Apple Reportedly Cancels Electric Car Project

Originally published at: Apple Reportedly Cancels Electric Car Project - TidBITS

So much for Project Titan and our fantasy of driving an Apple Car, but many of the affected employees will move to Apple’s artificial intelligence division to work on generative AI.

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

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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.

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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:

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

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.

There’s also this:

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.

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

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:

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!

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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.

Brad Templeton is one of the Internet’s experts on robocars (and a guy who was a major Internet figure back when I was getting started).

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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.

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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.

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.

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.”


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.

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.


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

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

But hey, all I want is CarPlay really.

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

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: