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Apple Ends 10-Year Electric Car Effort: Insider Reports

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Apple Ends 10-Year Electric Car Effort: Insider Reports

In a significant corporate development, insider sources have revealed that Apple Inc. is discontinuing its decade-long venture into electric vehicle manufacturing, marking the cessation of one of the company's most ambitious endeavors. The internal disclosure of this decision has reportedly surprised nearly 2,000 employees engaged in the project. The decision was jointly made by Apple's Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Williams, and Vice President Kevin Lynch.

This strategic shift entails a gradual conclusion of the project, with numerous members of the automotive team, referred to as the "Special Project Group" or SPG, transitioning to roles within the Artificial Intelligence (AI) department under the leadership of executive John Giannandrea. The focus of these employees will pivot towards generative AI projects, recognized as an increasingly pivotal area for the company's future endeavors.

Apple's automotive division encompasses a diverse team of several hundred hardware engineers and vehicle designers, who may explore opportunities within other Apple teams following the reshuffling. While workforce reduction is anticipated, specific details regarding the magnitude remain undisclosed.

The decision to terminate the project carries substantial implications for Apple, signifying the conclusion of a multi-billion-dollar investment known as the "Titan Project." Commencing around 2014, the project aimed at developing a fully autonomous electric vehicle adorned with luxurious interior features and advanced voice navigation.

From its inception, the project encountered various challenges, prompting multiple leadership and strategic changes. In recent years, Kevin Lynch and Jeff Williams assumed leadership roles following the departure of Doug Field, a former senior executive at Ford. In this restructured arrangement, Kevin Lynch is set to report to John Giannandrea, having previously reported to Jeff Williams, who concurrently oversees software engineering for Apple Watch.

Beyond aesthetic considerations, the development of autonomous driving technology posed a significant hurdle. Since 2017, Apple has conducted road tests using Lexus SUVs, deploying numerous vehicles on U.S. roads for system validation. Additional clandestine component testing was executed on a sprawling track in Phoenix, previously owned by Chrysler.

The decision to discontinue the project aligns with the broader context of a cooling electric vehicle market, where high costs and a lack of charging infrastructure impede widespread adoption. Recent industry trends indicate a shift by major automakers, including General Motors and Ford, towards increased production of hybrid vehicles. The entire sector is witnessing substantial adjustments in pricing, production targets, and profit forecasts for battery electric vehicles.

UBS Group forecasts a deceleration in U.S. domestic electric vehicle sales growth, projecting a decline from the anticipated 47% in 2023 to 11% this year.

Insider reports suggest that the senior leadership at Apple finalized this decision in recent weeks. A month ago, the project reached a critical juncture, with internal deliberations considering a potential postponement of the car release to 2028 and a downgrade in autonomous driving technology specifications from L4 to L2+ level. Notably, Apple's project team drew talent from diverse sectors of the automotive industry, including designers from Aston Martin, Lamborghini, BMW, and Porsche.

While Apple has shelved certain projects in the past, such as abandoning plans for television production around 2015, few initiatives have endured for such prolonged periods, involved such a substantial workforce, or incurred such significant costs.

Apple's most notable foray into the automotive sector remains its CarPlay software, facilitating seamless integration of iPhone features, including maps and Siri, with vehicle control and entertainment systems. A redesigned iteration of this software is underway, aiming for enhanced integration across a wider spectrum of vehicle models by avoiding direct competition with traditional automakers.


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