Those hoping to line up around the block to buy an Apple car after lining up around the block to buy an iPhone may have to wait ... forever. Bloomberg reports the tech company has dramatically scaled back its plans, which no longer include building an electric automobile that it planned to bring to market in 2019.
The focus of Apple's new automotive venture, named Project Titan, has instead shifted to developing an autonomous driving system that will enable the company to create partnerships with existing automakers. Hundreds of employees working on the Apple car project have either been reassigned in recent months or have left, Bloomberg has learned, as Apple has shifted focus. But the company has also been hiring staff in accordance with its new direction.
Project Titan's new goal is to prove the feasibility of a self-driving system close to the end of next year. By "self-driving" we assume Apple has nothing short of Level 5 autonomy in its sights in the long term -- one which will allow passengers to turn over all driving functions to the car.
The recent shift in focus comes after months of internal disagreement over the direction Apple's car unit should take, Bloomberg notes, pointing out similar issues at Google. It appears both companies have decided a completely new car with autonomous tech is not the way to go; the prospect of profits, slim as they may be, lies in selling technology to automakers rather than building a car factory from scratch. Duking it out with established automakers in a competitive marketplace with thin profit margins also does not appeal to Apple.
Is this the end of the Apple car? An entirely new vehicle is not completely off the table. But with the cuts of hundreds of employees and a shift to autonomous technology it appears Apple has already made its choice, one unlikely to be reversed in 2017 after so much time has passed.