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Apple EV car discontinued: Potential reasons that could’ve killed the idea

Apple was supposedly cooking up an electric car to take on Tesla and its buddies, but according to Bloomberg, who got the scoop from some secret insiders, the tech giant from Cupertino is now, changing course on the whole thing. Apple’s been working on this car idea for ten whole years, but then out of nowhere, Apple’s COO Jeff Williams and Vice President of Technology Kevin Lynch dropped a bombshell on nearly 2,000 employees, saying the electric car project is now totally dead.

Word on the street is that Apple is all about artificial intelligence (AI) now. So, some of the folks from the electric car team (they call themselves the “Special Projects Group”) are getting moved over to the AI squad. They’re the ones who are working on making Apple’s AI dreams a reality. But not everyone’s going to be so lucky. According to Bloomberg, there’s going to be some layoffs, but they’re not sure how many. It seems like the engineers from the Special Projects Group might be the ones most likely to get the boot.

The New York Times made a good point: even though Apple’s electric car project (dubbed “Project Titan”) was a secret to consumers, it was kind of the company’s “not-so-secret secret” because they were testing the car out in public. Project Titan was supposed to be a self-driving car with a fancy interior like a limo and navigation that you could control with your voice.

Also Read: Why has Apple made it so difficult to share Vision Pro with other users?

Apple’s worst-kept secret

Even though Apple hadn’t shown off its car to regular folks, the project had been one of Silicon Valley’s worst-kept secrets for years because they were testing it out on real roads. Canceling the project is a pretty unusual move for Apple, which usually doesn’t give up on big, public projects like this. Apple’s been having a tough time lately trying to find new ways to grow because everyone already has an iPhone and they’re not buying new ones as often as they used to.

Tim Cook, the big boss at Apple, has been dropping hints that Apple might want to get into the car game. They’ve been testing out hundreds of cars with self-driving tech on real roads for a long time now. The car, which they called Titan or Project 172 behind the scenes, was a tough project to work on. They had to shut down parts of the team, scrap and restart plans, and let go of a bunch of workers along the way.

Apple poured billions into researching this car, hoping it would be a rival to Tesla’s electric cars, which can drive themselves. This car was a big deal for Mr. Cook because it would have shown that Apple still had what it takes to come up with something new and exciting.

Since Mr. Cook took over, Apple has only brought out a few new gadgets, like the Apple Watch, which is now the top smartwatch; the HomePod smart speaker, which didn’t do so well; and the Vision Pro, the $3,500 goggles they just released to compete with Meta’s virtual reality headsets. Apple’s been putting a lot of money into making new stuff. In the past five years, they’ve spent $113 billion on research and development.

Potential reasons behind Apple car’s demise

Project Titan was a huge project that Apple had been working on since 2014, and it cost them billions of dollars. But according to Bloomberg, Apple decided to cancel it for five reasons.

  • Apple’s electric car plan is like a house of cards; it keeps changing and there’s no clear plan or approach.
  • There’s been a lot of turnover in leadership. In other words, the people in charge of Project Titan kept changing a lot.
  • The electric car is still a long way from being ready to buy, and that worried Apple. They were spending “hundreds of millions of dollars a year” on a car that might never actually be sold, according to Bloomberg.
  • Self-driving tech is tough and complicated.
  • The electric car market hasn’t been growing much because there aren’t enough places to charge them, which made Apple less hopeful about the whole thing.

But if there’s any company that can bring an industry back to life, it’s Apple. As someone who’s really into virtual reality, I’ve noticed a lot more interest in AR/VR since Apple released the Vision Pro, even though the Meta Quest 3 is also really good.

Apple’s electric car was supposed to cost about $100,000, according to reports. The people who are still working on Project Titan after the layoffs will now be under John Giannandrea, who’s in charge of Machine Learning and AI Strategy at Apple.

Also Read: VisionOS features that Apple should bring to iOS 18

Ex-Apple employee faced prison time for stealing its car secrets

Some of the folks working on the car project had to be really careful, but one guy didn’t get the memo and ended up stealing some trade secrets. He got caught, and now he’s looking at some time in prison and a big fine.

Back in 2018, Xiaolang Zhang swiped a 25-page circuit board schematic from some unnamed self-driving car project. At first, he said he didn’t do it, but in 2022, he cut a deal with the U.S. government. Now that Zhang’s done his time, he’s looking at 120 days behind bars and three years of probation. Plus, he’s gotta fork over $146,984 in restitution.

At first, AppleInsider said Zhang could be facing a 10-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. But he got a bit of a break. After he was done with his time on ‘Project Titan,’ Zhang told Apple he had to go to China to take care of his sick mom and work at XMotors, a car company. But things didn’t go as planned when he got caught at San Jose International Airport trying to catch a flight to Beijing.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.