Bloomberg: Apple gives up building a car, for now

By , Oct 17, 2016

Apple Car concept Aristomenis Tsirbas image 001

Project Titan, Apple’s ambitious initiative to build an electric vehicle by 20202021 reportedly fell apart amid management crisis, supply chain issues and departures, prompting the company’s leadership to shift gears and focus on autonomous self-driving software, for now.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported Monday that Apple will decide fate of self-driving software by late 2017 as the new direction no longer includes building its own car.

Bloomberg says that the change of plans and a tentative 2017 deadline for self-driving software came after months of strategy disagreements, leadership flux and supply chain challenges inside Apple’s unmarked car labs in Sunnyvale, California.

Apple had originally envisioned an electric car that could recognize a driver by fingerprint and autonomously navigate with the press of a button, Bloomberg writes.

“One plan sought a partially autonomous car that still had a steering wheel and pedals, while later plans migrated toward a fully autonomous vehicle,” reads the report.

The change in direction led to job cuts as hundreds of members of the 1,000-people strong Project Titan team have been reassigned, let go or have left of their own volition in two rounds of job cuts, one in August and the other in September.

More than 120 software engineers working on a car operating system and testing procedures were let go, including their lead John Wright and Dan Dodge, who created BlackBerry-owned QNX car software that powers CarPlay.

A few hundred hardware engineers working on car chassis, suspensions and undercarriages also lost their jobs.

From the article:

New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said. Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person.

Remaining engineers are now working on autonomous programs, vision sensors and simulators for testing Apple’s platform in real-world environments.

Another excerpt:

By the end of 2015, the project was blighted by internal strife. Managers battled about the project’s direction, according to people with knowledge of the operations. “It was an incredible failure of leadership,” one of the people said.

In early 2016, project head Steve Zadesky, a former Ford Motor Co. engineer and early iPod designer, left Titan. Zadesky, who remains at Apple, declined to comment.

Apple’s hardware expert Bob Mansfield was un-retired in April to lead Project Titan team. After carefully examining the project Mansfield announced a strategy shift to the team, saying Apple should “move from building an outright competitor to Tesla Motors Inc. to an underlying self-driving platform.”

Source: Bloomberg

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • Dean Flory

    Lead or follow Apple. If you follow, you’ll need to drop your prices down more than 90%.

  • lou111

    I really don’t want a situation, when I’ll be pushed to change my car every year 😉

    Let’s try to imagine. A car which drives only 20 km/h after 3 years of using 😀

    • Jamessmooth

      Omg seriously. Like the new iPhone every year… getting a new apple car every year? I need to start making more money to prepare for this!

    • Ara Rezaee

      Mac owners don’t have to buy Macs every year, the iPhone/Pad/Watch are/were like that because of hardware limitations, there wont be any speed hits once they build powerful enough chips

      • I think were at that point now, the 6s and 7 should last everyone a few years without ‘needing’ an upgrade..

      • n0ahcruz3

        That’s absolutely true, that’s why they started this project to expand their product portfolio. Im all in with them making a car.

      • jOn Garrett

        Most users of any phone never “need” an upgrade, people just want one.

      • lou111

        It’s still not satisfying. Everything on this world will be so short living soon… Every small or big product… Sad

    • Gethro

      No no no the thing you need to worry about is that you gotta keep a charger on you to charge it every second because it’s going to be so thin and beautifully design or how Jony Ive would put it “crafted ”

  • jay

    they never wanted to build a car in first place maybe on car play. to be a car maker is more than just make a car. people believe that they can order the car online and pick up in store? they need dealer and parts stores….

    • jOn Garrett

      Of course they did, they just now found out how difficult it is and it’s not like building a phone.

  • Jamessmooth

    This is too bad. I was really excited to see what they came up with.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Well im not surprised, the automotive business is highly competitive and resource hungry. I really think they should not give up on the project though. Maybe buy tesla for the giga factory and other goodies tesla ready established rather than making a car from the ground up.