Sorry Apple fans, but the iCar project has been canned

File picture: Greg Hutson / Independent Media.

File picture: Greg Hutson / Independent Media.

Published Feb 28, 2024


Apple has abandoned its ambitions to produce an electric car, US media reported this week, ending a struggling decade-long project.

The iPhone maker had dedicated nearly 2,000 employees to its secretive car development program, Bloomberg reported, but faced an increasingly competitive electric vehicle (EV) sector.

The target of "Project Titan," beginning around 2014, was to develop a fully autonomous car, according to media reports.

The decision to shut down the car project was announced internally on Tuesday, Bloomberg and The New York Times reported, citing unnamed sources.

Apple had reportedly invested billions of dollars in the project. The tech giant did not respond to AFP requests for comment.

Apple has never publicly disclosed its EV plans, despite a steady drip of media leaks over the years.

In 2022, the specialist site The Information published a report detailing the problems faced by the project, including the departure of multiple executives due to a lack of support from the leadership.

Several US carmakers have hit the brakes on EVs in recent months as demand has slowed. Self-driving carmakers Cruise and Waymo - which is owned by Google parent Alphabet - have also struggled to expand their products beyond San Francisco.

Elon Musk's Tesla, one of the EV industry's leaders, has also warned of slower growth in 2024.

In a post on X, Musk responded to news of Apple shutting down its car project with emojis showing a salute and a cigarette.

Apple will transfer many employees from the shuttered car division to generative artificial intelligence (AI) projects, Bloomberg reported.

"On one hand this is a modest disappointment, as the view within (Apple headquarters was)... with roughly 2,000 employees on this initiative that an Apple Car was still on the medium-term horizon," Wedbush's Dan Ives said in an analyst statement.

But on the other hand, he said, "the laser focus within Apple is ramping up and executing a broad AI strategy within the Apple ecosystem, as it appears the vast majority of these engineers and developers will now focus their efforts on AI."

Generative AI - popularized by the success of ChatGPT, from the Microsoft-backed OpenAI - makes it possible to produce text, images, sound and other output simply by submitting a request in everyday language.

Around the world, major tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon are rapidly pursuing the development and deployment of AI products.

But so far, Apple has had little to say on the subject beyond using AI in photo editing.

Agence France-Presse