Apple Car

Apple's now-canceled vehicle project.

By MacRumors Staff
Apple Car

Apple Car Canceled

Apple in February 2024 canceled the Apple Car project and has ceased all work on an autonomous, electric vehicle. Apple no longer intends to come out with an Apple Car. The approximately 2,000 employees working on the car will be reassigned to Apple's generative AI team, laid off, or sent to other divisions within the company.

A look back at the Apple Car's history and the many changes in leadership and scope can be found in our Apple Car history guide.

Apple's Car Project History

In 2014, Apple began working on "Project Titan," with more than 1,000 car experts and engineers developing an electric vehicle with limited self-driving capabilities at a secret location near the company's Cupertino headquarters.

The Apple Car project has shifted and changed multiple times over the course of the last several years due to internal strife and leadership issues, but development has continued. Though 2016 rumors suggested Apple had shelved plans for a car, by 2020, it was back on. In 2022, it was revealed that Apple's plan for a fully autonomous vehicle was not going to work out, with the project scaled back, and in 2024, rumors suggested it was pared back once again.

Apple is now working to release an electric vehicle with driver-assistance features similar to the functions offered by Tesla vehicles. The car will have a Level 2 autonomous driving system, which includes steering and brake/acceleration support, but the driver remains in control of the car and must pay attention on the road.

Apple originally planned to have a vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals that would operate on its own, but that is no longer the case. Apple went for a simpler design in order to get some kind of car to market, and it is expected to see a release no earlier than 2028.

Apple's AI and machine learning chief John Giannandrea is heading up the Apple Car project, and Kevin Lynch, known for his work on the Apple Watch, has also joined the Car team and it said to be largely responsible for Apple's push toward producing a vehicle. Under Lynch's leadership, Apple scaled back the car project to something that would be feasible for launching this decade.

Apple is said to have created a high-end processor for the Apple Car, and it is the most advanced component that Apple has developed to date, with 4x the power of four Mac chips. It's made from neural processors that can handle the incredible AI load needed for an autonomous vehicles. TSMC is expected to manufacture the chip, and that's the same company that makes chips for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple's car will use LiDAR sensors, radar sensors, and cameras to improve the driver assistance features.

Because Apple has no experience with car manufacturing, it will need partners to produce the vehicle, and Apple is said to be working on securing partnerships in the automobile industry. It is not yet known who Apple will work with, but it has held discussions with Hyundai and other companies.

The Apple Car has been described as Apple's "next star product" with Apple able to offer "better integration of hardware, software and services" than potential competitors in the automotive market. The Apple Car is likely to be marketed as a high-end vehicle rather than a standard electric vehicle, but Apple is aiming for a price point under $100,000.

Apple car wheel icon feature blue

In June of 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke publicly about Apple's work on autonomous driving software, confirming the company's work in a rare candid moment. Apple doesn't often share details on what it's working on, but when it comes to the car software, it's harder to keep quiet because of regulations.

"We're focusing on autonomous systems. It's a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It's probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on." -- Apple CEO Tim Cook on Apple's plans in the car space.

Since early 2017, Apple has been testing self-driving vehicles on public roads in California, using several 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs leased from Hertz. The SUVs have been spotted on the streets of Cupertino host of sensors and cameras as Apple prepares its self-driving software, and testing has ramped up over the years. Apple has more than 60 test vehicles out on the road.

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Apple was aiming to launch its autonomous car by 2028, but all work on the car has now stopped.

Design and Self-Driving Capabilities

Apple initially had incredibly ambitious plans for the Apple Car, and the company wanted to design a fully autonomous vehicle that would require no interaction from the driver, a goal that no car manufacturer has been able to achieve.

As it turns out, that plan was too ambitious, and Apple was forced to scale back. Apple Car rumors pointed toward a design with no steering wheel or pedals with an limo-like interior focused on hands-free driving similar to the Lifestyle Vehicle from Canoo, but now Apple Car will have a more traditional vehicle design with a driver's seat, steering wheel, and pedals. It will be now be similar in functionality to a Tesla, with the Apple Car able to provide steering and brake/acceleration support while the driver remains in control of the vehicle. The Apple Car will use LiDAR sensors, radar sensors, and cameras for driver assistance features.

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Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle's interior

Apple pivoted to a simpler design in order to be able to bring a vehicle to market following years of delays. If Apple is not able to deliver an electric vehicle with the scaled back feature set, Apple executives may cancel the project entirely.

Chassis

The initial design for the Apple Car featured four seats that face inward, allowing passengers to have face-to-face conversations with one another, plus it had a curved ceiling that resembles the roof of a Volkswagen Beetle, but with the project shifting toward a standard electric vehicle with some limited self-driving capabilities, it will now have a standard design.

As of right now, Apple does not have a partner for the car's manufacturing, and there is no solidified design. Apple is said to be speaking with car manufacturers in Europe.

Infotainment System

Apple has considered Apple Car designs with a large iPad-like touch screen in the middle of the vehicle, which would not be too dissimilar from the design of Tesla vehicles. Users would be able to interact with the central panel, and it would be integrated with Apple's current devices and services.

Processor

The processor that's in development for the car was created by Apple's silicon engineering group, which has also created the processors for the M1 Macs, iPhones, and other devices. Bloomberg describes this chip as the most advanced component that Apple has designed internally, with the power of four Mac chips.

It's said to be made up of neural processors that are able to handle the artificial intelligence requirements of autonomous driving. The chip runs out, and may need a sophisticated internal cooling system.

Safety

Safety is a major focal point in the design of the Apple Car. Apple wants to create a safer vehicle than companies like Tesla or Waymo, and so engineers are building in redundancies and backup systems that will kick in to avoid driving system failures.

Charging and Battery

The Apple Car could be compatible with the Combined Charging System, a standard used for charging electric vehicles. Companies like Tesla, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Kia, Hyundai, and others all support the CCS, and adopting the same standard would allow Apple Car owners to use charging stations that are already available.

Apple is developing a new battery design that has the potential to "radically" reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle's range. Apple is creating a "monocell" design that will bulk up the individual battery cells and free up space inside the battery pack by removing pouches and modules that hold battery materials. This will allow for more active material in a smaller package. The battery technology has been described as "next level" and similar to "the first time you saw the iPhone."

Sensors

Apple has held talks with four suppliers of LiDAR sensors that are smaller, more affordable, and more easily mass produced than current LiDAR systems, which are too bulky and expensive for use in mass produced vehicles. Apple is reportedly planning to use sensors from Wenmao, the company that supplies LiDAR sensors for the iPhone.

Apple Car Cost

The Apple Car is likely to be priced as a "very high-end" model or "significantly higher" than a standard electric vehicle. Rumors suggest that Apple is planning to price it under $100,000, but even at $100,000, it would be notably more expensive than entry-level Tesla vehicles. It would be on par with the higher-end Tesla Model S.

Apple Car Development History

Apple's interest in a car dates back to before the original iPhone, and Apple executives discussed building a car before the device launched. Steve Jobs considered developing an Apple car, and even met with the manufacturer of the lightweight, inexpensive "V-Vehicle" in 2010, but is said to have ultimately decided not to work on a car in 2008, preferring instead to focus development on the iPhone.

With the iPhone now secure as Apple's most profitable device, Apple has turned to other avenues of research and development, once again exploring the possibility of a car-related project. The first details on the Apple Car started leaking out at the beginning of 2015.

In February of 2015, a mysterious van leased to Apple was spotted driving around streets in Northern California. The van had a camera rig attached to it with multiple cameras, leading to speculation that Apple was using it to develop a product similar to Google Street View. More outlandish speculation ranged towards the possibility of a self-driving vehicle, but people who spotted the vans quickly determined the vans had drivers. Apple later came out and said the vans were related to a mapping project, but they were undoubtedly the catalyst that led to the discovery of Apple's secret on a car.

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One of the mysterious vans driving around the Bay Area

Just days after the vans were first spotted, an unidentified Apple employee emailed Business Insider, suggesting Apple was working on a project that would "give Tesla a run for its money." The source said that Tesla employees were "jumping ship" to work on a project at Apple that was "too exciting to pass up."

That tantalizing hint led several media sites to dig deep into Apple's plans, and in mid-February, Financial Times learned that Apple was recruiting automotive technology and vehicle design experts to work in a "top-secret research lab." That piece highlighted Apple's hiring of former Mercedes-Benz Research and Development exec Johann Jungwirth and pointed out Apple's efforts to research automotive products.

Financial Times and other media sources initially speculated Apple was perhaps developing an advanced software platform to build upon CarPlay because a full-on car project sounded unbelievable, but just hours later, The Wall Street Journal launched a figurative bomb. Apple was indeed working on creating an electric vehicle, said the site, a project that it started exploring in 2014.

According to The Wall Street Journal's sources, Apple had hundreds of employees working on designing a minivan-like electric vehicle under the code name "Project Titan." Steve Zadesky, Apple VP of Product Design was leading the project under Dan Riccio, and was given the go ahead by Apple CEO Tim Cook to recruit upwards of 1,000 employees, many from within Apple. Apple executives met with contract manufacturers of high-end cars like Magna Steyr, who Apple might have worked with had the car project not shifted focus.

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A Magna Steyr conceptual vehicle from 2012

Apple's car team explored a wide range of technologies, including silent motorized doors, car interiors sans steering wheel or gas pedals, augmented reality displays, an improved LIDAR sensor that protrudes less from the top of a car, and spherical wheels, but there was no clear vision for the car and executives disagreed even on major points like whether the car should be autonomous or semiautonomous, leading to delays and internal strife.

As a result of the internal issues, in January of 2016, Steve Zadesky announced plans to exit the project, leaving questions as to who would take over following his departure. In July of 2016, former Apple exec Bob Mansfield, who had retired from Apple in 2012, returned to lead the electric vehicle team.

After Mansfield began heading up the project in the summer of 2016, Apple's car strategy allegedly shifted towards autonomous driving, and in August and September of 2016, Apple laid off dozens of employees who were working on the project following an internal "reboot," many who have gone on to join other autonomous driving startups.

Apple adjusted the project to focus more heavily on the "underlying technology" for autonomous vehicles rather than actually building an automobile, and while initial rumors suggested the company was still developing a car and was continuing to pursue partnerships, later information indicated work on an actual car has stopped for the time being.

Apple has been granted a permit from the California DMV to test self-driving vehicles on public roads, and its vehicles, Lexus SUVs with radar and sensor equipment, have been spotted out on the road already. Apple may also be have purchased a testing site in Arizona that it previously leased.

Apple is also working on a shuttle program designed to transport employees between Apple's office in Silicon Valley. Apple is partnering with Volkswagen and will be installing its self-driving software in Volkswagen T6 Transporter vans to serve as an employee shuttle.

In August 2018, rumors suggested Apple could potentially be exploring the idea of a full Apple-branded vehicle once again. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple is working on an Apple Car that will launch between 2023 and 2025, despite rumors suggesting that Apple has ceased its work on an autonomous vehicle and is instead focusing on software.

Apple in January 2019 culled the Project Titan team once again and removed over 200 employees. In 2020, Bob Mansfield, who had been overseeing the project since 2016, retired and John Giannandrea took over the car project. Apple's Kevin Lynch is also working on the Apple Car team in addition to working on Apple Watch.

Doug Field, a former Tesla executive who was heading up the Apple Car project alongside John Giannandrea and Kevin Lynch, departed the company in September. It's unclear how this may affect Apple Car development, but it could be a major setback as he was the vice president of special projects. Lynch is taking over for Field, handling Apple Car development.

Apple in June 2019 purchased Drive.ai, a self-driving vehicle startup that designed a self-driving shuttle service. Apple hired multiple Drive.ai employees in the areas of engineering and product design for its own self-driving car project.

Apple held talks with electric vehicle company Canoo in early 2020, but talks ultimately did not move forward. Apple and Canoo discussed several options from an investment to an acquisition as part of Apple's efforts to further its electric vehicle project.

Apple in 2022 scaled back the Apple Car project, dropping plans for a full self-driving vehicle that requires no user interaction. Instead, Apple aimed for a car with an autonomous mode that would be able to be engaged on highways, but manual driving would be required in other areas. In 2022, Apple dropped all plans for a more radical design without a steering wheel or pedals.

Further changes were made to the Apple Car in 2024, with Apple again scaling back on its plans. Apple is no longer aiming for a full autonomous mode on highways, but instead it will have more limited driver assistance features such as steering and brake/acceleration support. The Apple Car driver will need to remain in control of the car and will have to pay attention to the road.

Development has been scaled down because Apple wants to be able to bring a vehicle to market before the end of the decade.

Apple Car Leadership

The Apple Car project has seen multiple leadership changes and hundreds of employees have been laid off during the course of development, but it is now under the leadership of John Giannandrea, Apple's AI and machine learning chief, who took over the reins from Bob Mansfield after Mansfield retired in 2020.

Kevin Lynch, known for leading development on the Apple Watch, has joined Apple's autonomous vehicle team to oversee Apple Car development in addition to working on the Apple Watch, so Apple has some of its top talent developing the vehicle. Lynch replaced Doug Field, a former Tesla executive, who left the company in September 2021.

Recruitment Efforts

Apple started with team of about 200 employees working on the Apple Car, but was said to be aiming to have more than 1,000 employees. Since early 2015, Apple has been recruiting employees from the automotive industry and other car-related fields, such as researchers with specialties in battery technology and autonomous systems.

Over the years and through the changes to the Apple Car project, Apple has hired hundreds of high-profile employees with expertise in cars and autonomous systems, poaching from a wide range of car companies. Some employees on Apple's team have previously worked for major companies like Tesla, Ford, and GM, while others have been recruited from smaller companies like Tesla, Volvo, Karma Automotive, Daimler, General Motors, A123 Systems, MIT Motorsports, Ogin, Autoliv, Concept Systems, General Dynamics, and tons more.

High-profile Apple hires from Tesla include former mechanical engineering manager David Nelson, former senior powertrain test engineer John Ireland, former Tesla head recruiter Lauren Ciminera, who may be working to recruit additional employees for the car project, and former Tesla vice president Chris Porritt, who may have joined Apple to play a key role in the development of the Apple Car. Porritt has decades of experience in the European automotive industry, having worked for companies like Land Rover and Aston Martin prior to joining Tesla.

Former Tesla senior CNC programmer David Masiukiewicz joined Apple in April 2016 to work in the Product Realization Lab, perhaps creating prototypes of parts designed for the Apple Car. Kevin Harvey, who previously worked in the CNC machine shop at Andretti Autosport, is also working in the lab.

Other notable hires include five employees from A123 Systems, a company that specializes in producing batteries for electric vehicles. Apple faced a lawsuit (now-settled) from A123 Systems over the poached employees, several of whom had expertise in lithium ion batteries designed for electric vehicles. The company's former CTO, Mujeeb Ijaz, is one of Apple's highest profile hires. Ijaz led a team responsible for research and development at A123 Systems, and prior to that, he worked at Ford as an electric and fuel cell vehicle engineering manager.

Apple has also recruited two former Ford engineers and an engineer that came from General Motors, and it has been poaching battery experts from Samsung. Other former Ford employees, with expertise in body work, include Todd Gray and Aindrea Campbell.

In mid-2015, Apple hired Doug Betts, who previously served as the Senior Vice President of the Chrysler Group, where he was the global head of operations leading product service and quality. Betts may be part of the operations team working on Apple's car project.

Apple hired several employees from electric motorcycle startup Mission Motors, reportedly leading to the company's shutdown. Apple recruited six engineers from the startup, whom are said to have electric drive expertise.

Apple has been hiring individuals with expertise in autonomous vehicles, such as Tesla Motors engineer Jamie Carlson, who worked on Tesla's autonomous vehicle firmware project, Paul Furgale, a researcher with specialization in autonomous vehicles, Jonathan Cohen, NVIDIA's former director of deep learning who worked on deep learning for NVIDIA's Drive NX platform, and Jaime Waydo, who formerly served as Waymo's head of systems engineering.

Apple has also hired Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen engineer, Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, Xianqiao Tong, who developed driver assistance systems for NVIDIA, Sanjai Massey, a Ford engineer who worked on connected and autonomous vehicles, Stefan Weber, a Bosch engineer who worked on driver assistance systems, and Lech Szumilas, a Delphi research scientist with former expertise in autonomous vehicles.

Other 2015 hires include Tesla Motors engineering manager Hal Ockerse, who worked on driver assistance system components; Subhagato Dutta, who worked on an automotive algorithm team at Texas Instruments; and Yakshu Madaan, who previously worked at Tata Motors, the largest Indian automotive manufacturer.

In the summer of 2016, Apple hired Dan Dodge, who formerly ran BlackBerry's automotive software division and developed QNX, the software platform found in a wide range of in-car infotainment systems. Dodge's automotive software expertise suggests he is working on the team developing Apple's autonomous car system.

Apple has at least two dozen former BlackBerry QNX employees working on developing an in-car software platform at a facility in Kanata, Canada.

Popular YouTuber and engineer Mark Rober temporarily worked on Apple's special projects team developing VR technology that's designed to be used in self-driving cars both to mitigate motion sickness when doing activities like reading in the car, and for entertainment purposes.

Rober has been with Apple for a few years now and is listed on several related patents. The VR technology would specifically be used within autonomous vehicles that do not require a person to be driving.

Apple in August 2018 re-hired Doug Field, who spent five years working at Tesla where he oversaw production of the Model 3. Field served as Apple's VP of Mac Hardware Engineering until he left Apple for Tesla in 2013. Field left the Apple Car team in September 2021 and was replaced by Kevin Lynch.

Apple in July hired Steve MacManus, a former Tesla executive with expertise in car exteriors and interiors. MacManus now works as a "Senior Director" at Apple and could be working on Apple's car project. In 2020, Apple picked up Jonathan Sive, a BMW vehicle engineer who also worked at Tesla and Waymo, and Stuart Bowers, another former Tesla vice president who worked on Tesla's self-driving system.

Apple in 2019 hired former Tesla VP Michael Schwekutsch, who worked on motors and transmissions. Schwekutsch later left the company in late 2021 to join an air taxi startup. He had been working as a senior director of engineering on the special projects group, aka Apple's car team. Apple lost three other hires in the same timeframe, including chief engineer for radar systems, Eric Rogers, engineering team battery manager Alex Clarabut, and hardware engineering manager Stephen Spiteri.

In December 2020, Apple hired Manfred Harrer, a Porsche executive with expertise in chassis design. Harrer was considered one of the best engineers in the Volkswagen Group, serving as the head of chassis development at Porsche prior to overseeing the Cayenne product line.

A former top Volkswagen manager told Business Insider that Mr. Harrer was a "hidden champion," and the "measure of all things in his field." Prior to working on chassis development at Porsche, Harrer worked for BMW and Audi.

Apple in June 2021 hired former BMW senior executive and self-driving vehicle startup founder Ulrich Kranz for its car project. Kranz founded Canoo, a self-driving car startup that he left earlier this year. Prior to creating Canoo, Kranz helped to develop the i3 and i8 vehicles at BMW, where he was employed for 30 years.

Apple in August 2021 hired two former Mercedes engineers to work on its special projects group to work on the Apple Car. One hire has expertise in the mass production of vehicles, vehicle steering, dynamics, and project management, while the other has similar expertise.

In May 2022, longtime Ford engineer Desi Ujkashevic joined the Apple Car team. Prior to departing Ford for Apple, Ujkashevic served as the Global Director of Ford's Automotive Safety Engineering Office. She had a hand in the development of the Ford Escape, Explorer, Fiesta and Focus, plus she worked on electric vehicles. Ujkashevic has a wealth of expertise that will benefit the Apple Car project, and she could be involved in helping Apple develop safeguards for electric vehicles.

Apple in July 2022 hired former Lamborghini executive Luigi Taraborrelli, who oversaw oversaw chassis and vehicle dynamics engineering/R&D prior to joining Apple. He helped lead the design of suspension components, rims and tires, steering and brake systems, exhaust systems, fuel systems, driver assistance technologies, and more.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed in March 2022 that Apple's car team had been "dissolved for some time," and that it must be reorganized within the next three to six months for mass production of the vehicle to begin by 2025, which is Apple's target production date.

Secret Headquarters

Several rumors about the Apple Car have included details suggesting Apple employees are working on the project at a top secret location in the Bay Area. Rumors and speculation suggested Apple's car campus is located in Sunnyvale, California, just minutes from the company's 1 Infinite Loop Campus in Cupertino.

Several of the buildings potentially associated with Apple's car project have secret internal names referencing Greek mythological characters like Zeus, Rhea, and Athena, all of which are tangentially related to "titans" in Greek mythology, perhaps hinting that the buildings are related to "Project Titan."

Building plans Apple filed with city officials suggest the company's Sunnyvale facility, codenamed "Rhea," is being used for something car related, with references to automotive terms like "lube bay," "wheel balancer," "tire changer," and "wheel sensor.

Apple is rumored to be operating a secret vehicle research and development lab in Berlin. The facility is said to employ between 15 and 20 men and women from the German automotive industry, all with backgrounds in engineering, software, hardware, and sales. The workers at the lab have all been described as "progressive thinkers" in their fields.

Apple in late 2018 leased a large manufacturing facility in Milpitas, California. It's not clear what Apple plans to use the site for, but it could potentially be related to the car project.

Apple's self-driving car program focuses heavily on safety, with Apple's vehicle protocols outlined in a white paper released by Apple. vehicle that's deploye is put through "rigorous verification testing" using simulation and closed-course proving grounds, and the test drivers operating the vehicles must complete multiple training courses. Apple also has safety protocols in place that require the driver to take over whenever necessary, and for the car to give control to the driver when it encounters situations it's unable to deal with.

Release Date

Apple no longer plans to release a vehicle.

Apple Car Timeline

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