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After 10 years of development, Apple abruptly cancels its electric car project

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in September 2023.
Jeff Chiu
/
AP
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products on the Apple campus in September 2023.

Apple has ended its secret plans of building a self-driving electric car, a decade-long effort that was seen as one of the most ambitious undertakings in the company's history.

Apple executives on Tuesday informed teams working on the tech giant's vehicle, called Project Titan internally, that hundreds of employees who worked on the car will be shifted to divisions working on artificial intelligence, according to multiple reports.

The push at Apple to build an autonomous vehicle is estimated to have cost the company billions of dollars, with around 2,000 employees working on the endeavor.

While some Apple employees are being moved to work on AI products, many others are expected to be laid off, though the exact number of workers affected remains unclear.

Apple declined to comment. The news that Apple is scrapping its car project was first reported by Bloomberg, which said Apple was struggling in its quest to crack self-driving technology, just as the market for electric vehicles was beginning to slow.

NPR has not independently confirmed the project's cancellation.

The prospect of Apple, one of richest companies in the world, releasing an Apple-branded car had the potential to transform the auto industry and was being closely watched by auto executives and Apple diehards alike.

Despite the anticipation, analysts said Apple was still many years away from ever releasing its own car. Engineers at the company have for years been testing Apple car technology on public roads.

At one point, Apple was attempting to build a car without a steering wheel or pedals. But it abandoned the idea, since it was not possible with current technology, Bloomberg reported in late 2022.

Apple never publicly revealed it was developing a self-driving vehicle, but analysts expected the company to price it around $100,000. It was seen as a could-be rival to models of Tesla's electric cars in the same price range.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to have welcomed the news that Apple was winding down its car project, sharing a social media post about the move with his own commentary: a saluting emoji and a cigarette.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.
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