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Apple reportedly scraps multibillion-dollar plan to build electric car

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Apple is canceling its plans to build an electric car, according to multiple outlets, ending a secretive project that has consumed immense resources over the past decade.

Executives from the company made the unexpected announcement during an internal team meeting on Tuesday, forecasting layoffs and telling employees that many of them would shift to working on generative artificial intelligence, per reports.

Apple is believed to have spent billions of dollars attempting to develop an electric, semi-autonomous vehicle under the codename Project Titan, and its decision to kill the program is a major retreat from its previous strategy.

The Apple chief executive, Tim Cook, had hinted at the company’s plans for a car in recent years, though he never fully committed to delivering a product.

Although Apple did not formally announce its plans to offer a car, the project was a source of intense speculation among the automotive and tech industries. The company hired executives from marquee car companies such as Lamborghini and Tesla to oversee its development, and acquired the autonomous vehicle startup Drive.ai in 2019.

Apple did not return a request for comment on the decision to end the program. The company’s announcement came as a surprise to the hundreds of employees who worked on the project, Bloomberg reported, and many may face job cuts.

The company’s plans for an electric car have repeatedly shifted since it started devoting resources to the concept in 2014. The attempts to bring a product to market faced numerous setbacks since then, however.

Apple laid off dozens of employees connected to the project in a 2016 restructuring, and the key executive in charge of the project defected to Ford in 2021.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Apple’s estimated release date for the car had been delayed until at least 2028. Apple had also dialed back its ambitions for the car, according to Bloomberg, going from a fully autonomous vehicle to one with some self-driving capabilities along the lines of Tesla’s automobiles. In contrast, the company had only a few years ago considered developing an entirely self-driving car with no steering wheel and a wrap-around seat interior like a limousine.

In response to Apple’s decision to kill its electric car, the Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk, posted emojis of a salute and a cigarette on X.

Apple will reportedly devote more of its resources to working on generative AI projects, including shifting researchers and engineers who formerly worked on the automotive effort to its special projects group.

Cook announced during a quarterly earnings call earlier this month that Apple was spending “a tremendous amount of time and effort” on artificial intelligence and would deliver generative AI features to consumers within the year.

This article was written by Nick Robins-Early from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.