The Apple electric car project, codenamed “Titan,” is an electric car project undergoing research and development by Apple Inc. Apple has yet to openly discuss any of its self-driving research, but around 5,000 employees were reported to be working on the project as of 2018.
Starting in 2014, Apple began working on “Project Titan,” with upwards of 1,000 employees working on developing an electric vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters.
Over the course of the last several years, Internal strife, leadership issues, and other problems impacted the car project and 2016 rumors even suggested Apple shelved plans for a car, but Apple has overcome development problems and still plans to develop a consumer-facing car.
- Apple-designed electric car
- Known as “Project Titan”
- Self-driving systems currently being tested
- Development personnel faced major scale back multiple times
- Project faced leadership turmoil regarding the direction
- Acquired Drive.AI in 2019
- Car launch expected in 2023 to 2025
Rumor Or Real?
Apple is believed to be working on an electric vehicle project that it plans to launch a few years down the road. The top-secret project is said to be in the works at a hidden lab named “SG5” in Sunnyvale, Calif. Internally, the effort is believed to be known as “Project Titan” and may one day yield an “Apple Car.”
Rumors have long suggested Apple is actively working on a variety of different automotive projects that could ultimately lead to an “Apple Car.” The entirety of the research falls under the catch-all title “Project Titan.”
The term has been used to describe a number of different elements and technologies, but fall into two broad categories: self-driving vehicle systems and car design.
While initial reports pointed towards the creation of an entire Apple-designed vehicle, the titular “Apple Car,” the rumors have also indicated a change of focus for Apple. One that pulled it away from the grand design of a full automobile and onto just self-driving systems.
However, many rumors, reports, and patent filings have emerged since that supposed pivot, suggesting the full car design aspect is still alive and becoming more of a central element to Project Titan as a whole.
“Apple Car” Design
Initially, “Project Titan” was rumored to involve an electric vehicle called we are calling “Apple Car,” delivered by 2019 or 2020. Towards the end of 2015 however, the program experienced “an incredible failure of leadership,” according to one source, in which managers fought over where Titan was going. This led to the departure of project leader Steve Zadesky.
The design and technology behind “Project Titan” remained very much in flux, sources said, with Apple at one point considering using BMW‘s i3 as the basis for its “Apple Car.” Apple and BMW have held talks about a potential partnership, though both BMW and Daimler reportedly ended talks with Apple over who might lead the project and own data.
“Apple Car” Release Speculation
If Apple is intending to actually ship an “Apple Car,” there may be a few more years to wait until it is unveiled to the public for the first time.
Reports from 2016 suggested Apple was aiming for a 2020 rollout, but issues forced a delay into 2021, such as the departure of project leader Steve Zadesky.
It was also unclear at the time whether Apple’s first attempt at a car will include some level of self-driving capability, though the reporting at the time was just before Apple started its efforts to test the system on public roads.
Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo proposed in August 2018 Apple will create a shipping consumer product under “Project Titan” by as early as 2023, with the “Apple Car” launch window stretching as far as into 2025. There was no indication as to how the dates were determined by Kuo, but he wrote he expects Apple to take advantage of tectonic shifts in the automotive market.
By leveraging “potentially huge” replacement demands emerging in the sector due to the introduction of new technologies, Kuo believes Apple can take advantage of a car market that is ripe for change, in a similar way to how the smartphone market existed before the iPhone.
The analyst also suggests the vehicle project could help propel Apple towards a $2 trillion valuation.
“Apple Car” features and testing
Kept under the “Project Titan” name due to its closeness to the original car-design concept, Apple’s work on self-driving vehicle systems have been the most prominent element of the entire scheme.
Unlike the designs, which are brought up in patent filings and rumors, it is actively known Apple has developed and tested a self-driving system, one that has appeared in public filings with government regulators, and has even been spotted on public roads.