End of the iCar: Apple Curbs Electric Vehicle Quest in Fresh Drive for AI

The Associated Press

Apple’s hitherto secret effort to develop its own self-driving electric vehicle (EV) has reached a dead end. Multiple sources confirmed to news outlets Wednesday the iPhone maker has dumped the project after a decade’s work delivered little return on investment.

The firm has never publicly acknowledged its efforts which involves around two thousand people, some of whom who will now be reassigned elsewhere or face being cut altogether.

Apple’s electric vehicle project was hailed as the vanguard of its attempts to diversify beyond its hit product, the iPhone, which still boasts roughly half of its global sales.

The decade-long effort to build a competitor for the likes of Tesla and Rivian has never been officially confirmed by Apple, and a spokesman for the company declined to comment.

The news, which was announced to employees on Tuesday, was first reported by Bloomberg and comes as interest in the EV market wanes.

The Financial Times notes that back in January, Tesla warned flagging demand, high interest rates and intensifying competition would combine to lead to slower EV sales growth rates though 2024.

Ford and General Motors have paused plans to expand their EV manufacturing capacity in recent months, and last week Rivian announced that it would cut 10 percent of its workforce and keep deliveries flat this year.

The FT sets out Apple’s decision to wind up its car project comes as it prepares to announce more details of its work in the fast-growing generative AI sector. It reports:

Investor attention is focused on when the tech giant will bring new features to its smartphones to keep pace with rivals such as Samsung and Google. This month Apple released its new spatial computing headset, the Vision Pro, and has been spending on new chips and employees as it prepares to bring AI features to its devices.
Apple says it has been accelerating its research and development, spending nearly $30bn last year, with a fivefold increase in spending over the past 10 years.

The Apple car team was reportedly known as the Special Projects Group as part of its chief executive Tim Cook’s Project Titan, the BBC reports.

As it spent billions of dollars on research and development, the company was initially rumoured to be working on a fully autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel and pedals.

The team was understood to still be years away from producing a vehicle that could appeal to an increasingly sceptical marketplace.

“This is a smart and long awaited decision,” Ray Wang, founder and chief executive of Silicon Valley-based consultancy Constellation Research told the BBC.

“The market demand for EVs is not there and AI is where all the action is,” he added.

Multi-billionaire Elon Musk responded on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to the news the Apple project was being wound down with emojis of a salute and a cigarette.


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