Apple has temporarily put its plans to build an Apple car on hold, according to Bloomberg journalists Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, who cite a number of people familiar with the matter.
Over recent months, “hundreds” of people on a 1,000-strong Apple car team have reportedly been reassigned, let go, or left the company of their own accord, Bloomberg’s sources said.
Although Apple is no longer looking to develop its own automobile, it is still interested in developing an autonomous driving system that could either be sold to car manufacturers or integrated into an Apple car down the line, should the company decide to make a car at some point in the future, according to the report.
Those that remain on the Apple car team — created in 2014 and said to be known internally as “Project Titan” — have reportedly been given a year to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system.
Under Project Titan, the company’s executives dreamt of building an electric car that would be able to recognise its driver by fingerprint and autonomously drive them from A to B at the touch of a button, according to Bloomberg.
Apple was initially hoping to start shipping the Apple car in 2019, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal in September 2015.
Apple has never publicly stated that it is working on a car but the company has recruited dozens of automotive experts from companies like Ford and Mercedes-Benz, according to The Financial Times. There was a time when former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky, who helped build the iPhone, and Johann Jungwirth, who was Mercedes Benz’s R&D chief, were both working for Apple.
Bloomberg reports that the shift in direction comes after months of upheaval within Apple’s secret car labs in Sunnyvale, California, which are less than five miles from its headquarters in Cupertino. Bloomberg specifically cites “strategy disagreements, leadership flux and supply chain challenges.” A report from April suggested that Apple is also using a team of engineers in Berlin to develop the Apple car.
In April, a local news report from Frankfurter Allgemeine suggested that Apple was also using a team of engineers in Berlin to develop the Apple car.
Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.