Apple has reportedly scaled back its big ambitions in the automotive industry. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims the original project titan the company has moved away from a planned fully autonomous car to an electric car that would be more similar to Tesla cars. So called Apple Car should be launched in 2028 at the earliest.
Autonomous car functions were allegedly gradually reduced from level 5 (full automation) to level 4 (full automation under certain circumstances) and now to level 2+ (partial automation). This would mean that the vehicle will offer limited autonomous functionssuch as lane keeping or brake/acceleration support, will still require driver’s full attention.
By comparison, Tesla’s Autopilot is classified as Level 2. Level 2+ is not an official designation, but is sometimes used informally to refer to a more advanced version of Level 2.
What Apple once envisioned as a car without a steering wheel or pedals (and possibly a remote control center ready to take over for the driver) now looks more copies of Tesla electric cars. According to experts, this decision can destroy the entire project, or, on the contrary, help it survive.
In general, fully autonomous vehicles don’t have a very good reputation. For example Cruise, GM’s robotic car division, laid off 24% of its workforce in December 2023. This happened after one of the company’s vehicles it crushed and pulled pedestrians, who was hit by another car. Following the incident, the California Highway Patrol suspended Cruise’s license to operate driverless vehicles due to safety concerns. On the other hand, competitor Waymo seems to be doing well. However, government regulations are crucial in this matter, and Apple may have realized that undertaking such a large and expensive project could be risky.
Apple’s Project Titan has been rumored since at least mid-2010, and the company has already spent on the initiative hundreds of millions of dollars. According to Gurman, she worked on powertrains, self-driving hardware and software, car interiors and exteriors, and other key parameters.