The Apple Car is dead

Apple has officially scrapped its multibillion dollar autonomous EV plans to focus on AI.
Apple logo in store
Plans for an Apple car date as far back as 2014, but the project is no more. Deposit Photos

It turns out that last month’s report on Apple kicking its tortured, multibillion dollar electric vehicle project down the road another few years was a bit conservative. During an internal meeting on Tuesday, company representatives informed employees that all EV plans are officially scrapped. After at least a decade of rumors, research, and arguably unrealistic goals, it would seem that CarPlay is about as much as you’re gonna get from Apple while on the roads. RIP, “iCar.”

The major strategic decision, first reported by Bloomberg, also appears to reaffirm Apple’s continuing shift towards artificial intelligence. Close to 2,000 Special Projects Group employees worked on car initiatives, many of whom will now be folded into various generative AI divisions. The hundreds of vehicle designers and hardware engineers formerly focused on the Apple car can apply to other positions, although yesterday’s report makes clear that layoffs are imminent.

[Related: Don’t worry, that Tesla driver only wore the Apple Vision Pro for ’30-40 seconds’]

Previously referred to as Project Titan or T172, Apple’s intentions to break into the automotive market date as far back as at least 2014. It was clear from the start that Apple executives such as CEO Tim Cook wanted an industry-changing product akin to the iPod or iPhone—an electric vehicle with fully autonomous driving capabilities, voice-guided navigation software, no steering wheel or even pedals, and a “limousine-like interior.”

As time progressed, however, it became clear—both internally and vicariously through competitors like Tesla—that such goals were lofty, to say the least. Throughout multiple leadership shakeups, reorganizations, and reality checks, an Apple car began to sound much more like existing EVs already on the road. Basic driver components returned to the design, and AI navigation plans downgraded from fully autonomous to current technology such as acceleration assist, brake controls, and adaptive steering. Even then, recent rumors pointed towards the finalized car still costing as much as $100,000, which reportedly concerned company leaders for the hyper-luxury price point.

This isn’t the first time Apple pulled the plug on a major project—in 2014, for example, saw the abandonment of a 4K Apple smart TV. But the company has rarely, if ever, spent as much time and money on a product that never even officially debuted, much less made it to market.

Fare thee well, Apple Car. You sounded pretty cool, but it’s clear Tim Cook believes its future profits reside in $3,500 “spatial computing” headsets and attempting to integrate generative AI into everything. For now, the closest anyone will get to an iCar is wearing Apple Vision Pro while seated in a Tesla… something literally no one recommends.