There is no Apple Car -- and there never will be

The rumour mill about the Apple Car grinds on and on and on, and keep getting little clues about what “Project Titan” may or may not be all about.

But now it’s starting to look like the “car” part may be disappearing from the picture.

The New York Times reported dozens of layoffs on the project, as part of a “reboot.”

This follows two earlier swerves on project Titan, covered by my colleague Steve Kovach. Tim Cook made some obscure statements that suggest a recent investment in a Chinese car-sharing service is going to provide support, somehow, for the Apple Car, alleged to arrive in 2021. That rumour now looks baseless.

Apple also put somebody with zero automotive experience in charge of the project, although he was reportedly close to Steve Jobs.

From my perspective, having followed the up-to-now completely inconsequential progress of the mysterious Project Titan, I’m ready to say that if you think Apple will be selling an actual car by 2021, you’re going to be disappointed.

Here’s why. That’s five years down the road. The Apple Car project has been underway for about two years. So we’re being asked to accept that it will take Apple seven years to create and market an automobile?

That’s about two entire product cycles for a major automaker. Heck, Ford designed, engineered, and went racing in about a year and half with the new $400,000 Ford GT supercar — and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Ford GT Le Mans Car 68Screenshot via Ford PerformanceFord’s Le Mans winner.

If it’s going to take Apple that long to bring a car to market, then you can only draw two conclusions: that Apple wants to develop a vehicle to use future technologies that aren’t practical or accessible today; or that Apple is completely incompetent when it comes to this car project.

It’s possible that the undertaking is just a sort of sideline experiment to keep pace with Google and Tesla. That would make sense.

But the the Apple Car isn’t a car.

And based on Cook’s comments and the recent “reboot” layoffs, I don’t think it’s trending in that direction, anyway. I think it’s a comprehensive automotive interface of some sort, a CarPlay that takes over your entire vehicle and what systems are/will be outside the car.

So it’s come to this: there will never be a true Apple Car — not one with wheels and an Apple badge on the front.

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