No One Could Decide On What They Wanted The Car To Be

You might have heard a rumor floating around over the years that Apple was working on building its own car. Many memes popped up cracking jokes about what an Apple Car would be like, but one thing was certain: the company was indeed working on some sort of vehicle. Internally, the car was code-named Titan, though some called it the Titanic, and like the ship, it became a total disaster.

Apple Car: Indecision Was Its Undoing

According to the New York Times, since the idea of Apple building a car began, it has been scrapped and rebooted repeatedly, with hundreds of workers having touched the project. Company leaders constantly argued about what an Apple car should be; where it started as an electric vehicle that would compete against Tesla (charger sold separately) and morphed into a self-driving vehicle to rival Google’s Waymo.

Apple Car

Apple first launched its car project in 2014; it was among several investors, executives, engineers, and companies chasing the idea of a self-driving car. Google had begun testing prototypes of its vehicle on public roads in California, which resulted in voices across Silicon Valley insisting that autonomous cars would be commonplace. Naturally, Apple wanted to be included. Members of the team working on the project knew they were facing harsh realities; the car would be costly. According to the six employees familiar with the project, they knew it would likely cost at least $100,000, meaning it would generate little profit compared to smartphones and earbuds.

From the beginning, the project was troubled by differing views on what it should be. Steve Zadesky initially led the effort and wanted to build an electric vehicle that competed with Tesla. Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, wanted to pursue a self-driving car. Apple began hiring people to work on the project, with more than 2,000 employees, including engineers who had worked for NASA and developed racecars for Porsche. The team created several new technologies for the car, including a windshield that could display turn-by-turn directions and a sunroof that would feature special polymer to reduce heat from the sun.

Apple Car

By 2016, it was clear the car effort was in trouble. Zadesky left Apple, and his successor altered the project to be entirely self-driving. Two more leaders took over the car effort in the following years. A former Tesla executive, Doug Field, leaned into efforts to build its self-driving system. Then, his successor reversed the company’s plans and returned to its original idea of making an electric vehicle.

At the beginning of 2024, Apple’s leadership decided that it was a better use of the company’s time to work on generative AI rather than the car. This has ultimately resulted in the company telling employees during an internal meeting on Tuesday that some members of the Project Titan team would be reassigned to work on artificial intelligence; meanwhile, others were told they needed to apply for different roles in the company. So, the Apple Car is officially dead. However, the technologies that were developed for it will be used in other products, such as robot assistants, augmented reality, and A.I.-powered AirPods with cameras.

Ultimately, Apple appears to have accepted its role in the automotive industry: CarPlay. That’s it.

Apple Car

Written by Zac Quinn

Zac's love for cars started at a young age, after seeing the popular Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds. From there, fascination and enthusiasm blossomed and to this day the Ford Mustang remains a favorite. His first job started out detailing cars, but also provided the opportunity to work on restoration including an 1968 Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, and a C3 Corvette, though he left that job before further work and experience could be had. From there, he was a detailer at a car dealership before quitting that job to try and finish college.

Much of his free time while studying was spent watching YouTube videos regarding new cars, or off-roading. 4WD247 is a personal favorite channel which rekindled a dying flame in car enthusiasm, now tailored towards trucks and SUVs and the fun that can be had building up an overlanding rig, and going on adventures, though, that chapter remains unwritten for the time being.

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