April 20, 2024

Roughly a decade after Apple launched Project Titan, the technology giant’s plans to build and sell its own electric car have reportedly been terminated.

The decision to end the project was announced by Apple COO Jeff Williams and Kevin Lynch, a vice president in charge of the effort, at an internal meeting on Tuesday, Bloomberg News reports.

The project will begin winding down, and many employees allocated to the team — known as the Special Projects Group — will be moved to Apple’s artificial intelligence division, Bloomberg reports. Apple has quietly acquired more than 20 AI and machine learning startups since 2017 and is increasingly using the technology in new product features.

Almost 2,000 employees were assigned to work on the now-shuttered EV project, including hundreds of car designers and hardware engineers. Although staffers were reportedly encouraged to apply for positions elsewhere at the company, layoffs are expected.

An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The decision to cancel the project ends what was a roughly decade-long headache for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple. The tech giant has changed the project’s leadership and strategy several times over the years, and the multibillion-dollar effort has been repeatedly delayed.

As of the end of 2022, Apple had said it planned to release a model by 2026 with advanced self-driving features. In January, Apple pushed its plans back to 2028, according to Bloomberg. Apple had also lowered its envisioned price for the EV to $100,000 from $120,000.

The tech giant got into the market “because when you already lead all the other largest product categories, you need to find a new product category that’s big enough to be meaningful,” said Gil Luria, a senior software analyst and managing director at D.A. Davidson & Co.

But, Luria noted, the automotive industry is a tough market with low margins and a wealth of competition.

“Apple has very high levels of profitability for the rest of its businesses” he added. “The fact that [Apple] decided this isn’t a market that can ever get to that level of profitability is probably a signal to other participants it may not be worth their time.”

The news of Apple’s cancellation was celebrated by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose automaker is one of the largest players in the EV market. Musk took to X, the social media platform he purchased and rebranded from Twitter, to post a saluting emoji followed by a cigarette emoji.

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