In a strategic shift, Apple Inc. has postponed its highly anticipated electric vehicle launch from the initial target of 2026 to 2028, according to sources cited by Bloomberg. The delay reflects the tech giant’s grappling with the complexities of transitioning from consumer gadgets to the automotive industry.
Internally known as Project Titan, Apple has been discreetly working on its electric car initiative since 2014, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in development. Despite the substantial investment, the company is yet to produce a prototype, facing internal team restructuring and leadership changes over the years.
The challenges of developing an electric car have proven more arduous than anticipated for Apple, leading to a downgraded timeline for the vehicle’s launch. Originally aiming for a “level four” autonomous driving capability, where the car operates autonomously in most conditions, Apple now plans to roll out the vehicle with “level two” autonomy. This level, akin to Tesla’s Autopilot technology, enables the car to perform certain maneuvers independently, such as braking, lane changing, parking, or motorway driving, while the driver retains control.
The shift in strategy has prompted Apple to consider introducing additional autonomous features through post-launch upgrades. This marks a significant reduction in the project’s initial ambitions, where Apple had explored the possibility of a car devoid of a traditional steering wheel and pedals.
Sources indicate that Apple’s board, including CEO Tim Cook and project head Kevin Lynch, faced scrutiny over the car plans last year. This alteration in approach represents a pivotal moment, as the board weighs the decision to intensify efforts toward launching the car or potentially discontinuing the project entirely. Apple has reportedly engaged in discussions with European car manufacturers to explore collaborative possibilities.
While not having manufactured a car, Apple has been actively testing autonomous driving technology on California streets, deploying a fleet of Lexus SUVs. The company registered a total of 67 vehicles with the California Department of Motor Vehicles last year. Apple has also been offering in-car software, such as CarPlay, a hands-free system linking to iPhones, available on numerous models from manufacturers like BMW and Ford.
This strategic move into the automotive sector aligns with Apple’s broader quest for new avenues of growth, as it seeks to replicate the success of the iPhone, launched in 2007. Additionally, the company recently ventured into virtual reality technology with the unveiling of its Vision Pro headset earlier this month. The adjusted timeline for the electric car launch suggests Apple’s cautious approach in navigating the challenges of the rapidly evolving automotive landscape.