Apple Cancels Its Decade-Long Electric Car Project, Will Focus on Generative AI Instead

Apple Cancels Its Decade-Long Electric Car Project, Will Focus on Generative AI Instead

After over a decade of work, Apple is shutting down its secretive efforts to develop an electric vehicle, according to an internal announcement made on Tuesday. The iPhone maker will reassign many of the nearly 2,000 employees who were working on the ambitious self-driving car initiative, known internally as Project Titan, to focus on artificial intelligence projects instead.

The decision, first reported by Bloomberg, marks an abrupt end to one of Apple's most high-profile product gambles in recent years. The company had aimed to compete against Tesla and other automakers by producing a breakthrough consumer electric vehicle packed with self-driving capabilities and a futuristic interior design. However, the car project apparently struggled with unclear direction, leadership changes, and lofty technological goals over its 10-year lifespan.

Apple's operating chief Jeff Williams and AI head John Giannandrea broke the news to Titan employees in a meeting, explaining that work on the electric car would wind down entirely. While hardware engineers and car designers may be offered positions elsewhere at Apple, layoffs are expected as well.

Instead of vehicles, Apple's leaders appear to believe its efforts in AI, spearheaded by Giannandrea's division, represents the company's best path forward. Many former Titan employees will now devote their talents to "generative AI" - algorithms capable of synthesizing novel content, such as text and media, with little human input.

However, the Apple car team also comprises several hundred hardware engineers and car designers. While they may be able to apply for jobs on other Apple teams, layoffs are expected, although the number remains unclear.

The decision to wind down the project was finalized by Apple's most senior executives in recent weeks. The most recent strategy discussed internally was delaying a car release until 2028 and reducing self-driving specifications from Level 4 to Level 2+ technology. Ultimately however, despite years of effort and billions invested, executives and board members evidently doubted the car project's chances of ever becoming a profitable self-sustaining business compared to the company's existing product ecosystem.

The projected price for the Apple car was around $100,000. However, executives were concerned about the vehicle's ability to provide the profit margins that Apple typically enjoys on its products. The company's board was also apprehensive about continuing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a project that may never come to fruition.

The shift in focus from electric cars to generative AI signifies a strategic but important pivot for Apple. While the electric car project was a bold attempt to enter a new industry, the company is now choosing to focus on the much more valuable AI space that it has quickly fallen behind in.

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