Currently reading: Report: Apple car delayed amid self-driving scale-back
‘Project Titan’ undergoes transformative changes as executives face challenges with autonomous vehicles

Apple has postponed its first car – dubbed ‘Project Titan’ – and massively scaled back its autonomy ambitions, a new report has claimed.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reported that Apple executives are facing the prospect that full (level five) autonomous driving is impossible with current technology.

Apple will reportedly now focus on enabling self-driving on motorways only, which suggests that a level two-plus advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) in the mould of GM’s SuperCruise or Ford’s BlueCruise is being considered as an alternative.

A level three system similar to those in the Mercedes-Benz EQS and S-Class may also be in the frame. Level three is the first stage considered to be autonomy, rather than ADAS, but it works under limited conditions only – in preset (geofenced) areas and requiring driver input to navigate obstacles such as roadworks or inclement weather.

As such, Titan – previously planned to be an MPV-sized shuttle with limousine-style seating, omitting a steering wheel or pedals – will now don a more conventional silhouette and the required controls for human control, Bloomberg said.

Apple car autocar render rear quarter static

This is despite reports as recently as August suggesting that the iPhone maker had signed off the design of its first automotive product. 

The changes have pushed its development timeline back by a year, with R&D continuing through 2024 ahead of testing in 2025 and an eventual launch in 2026, according to Bloomberg. 

As previously reported by Autocar, Apple has yet to secure a platform or a manufacturing partner for the car, which may play in its favour, given the late shift in its goals.

However, the firm appears set to develop its own platform, having hired ex-Lamborghini chassis chief Luigi Taraborrelli - although that is no indication of plans to endow the vehicle with any sporting credentials. 

Back to top

This differs from the approach taken by rival technology firms muscling in on the automotive sector. Sony has established a well-publicised joint venture with Honda; Huawei has partnered with Chinese manufacturer Seres; and Foxconn is only building platforms for other manufacturers. 

Sony vision s 02 concept 2022 front quarter static 0

Foxconn is the closest to Apple in terms of ambition, but it does not plan to sell the vehicles developed for its own Foxtron brand. Instead, it will use those as concepts advertising its technology.

Bloomberg’s report comes as several manufacturers rethink their approach to autonomous vehicles.

Earlier this week, reports broke that Audi’s Artemis project – seeking to develop a level four-capable autonomous vehicle by 2024 – may be axed under VW Group CEO Oliver Blume’s new software plan.

This would represent a dramatic adjustment in strategy for Audi, because autonomous capabilities are a key facet of the Sphere concept cars that preview production models due by the end of the decade. These include the Urbansphere concept, a spacious MPV featuring a lounge-like interior with swivelling passenger seats, and the Grandsphere, a luxury four-seat coupé with fold-away steering controls. 

In October, Ford and VW axed the Argo AI joint venture that was developing level four autonomous tech – a step below what was planned for Project Titan – because of its unprofitability.

Back to top

“We’re optimistic about a future for level four ADAS, but profitable, fully autonomous vehicles at scale are a long way off,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley.

Nonetheless, other companies remain confident – and none more so than in the ride-hailing sector.

Waymo zeekr minivan side static doors open 0

For example, Californian start-up Waymo recently agreed to use Chinese giant Geely’s new SEA-M platform to underpin its first autonomous taxi (pictured above), with Geely brand Zeekr stating it will arrive “in the coming years”.

Indeed, Geely is positioning itself to capture a large share of the lucrative autonomous-driving market: Geely-owned Volvo’s new EX90 SUV features a lidar system that will eventually enable “unsupervised autonomous driving” in certain conditions.

Intel, which owns Israeli autonomous tech company Mobileye, once estimated that the self-driving industry would be worth £6 trillion by 2050.

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin Autocar
Title: Editorial Assistant, Autocar

As a reporter, Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry. He joined Autocar in July 2022 after a nine-month stint as an apprentice with sister publication, What Car?. He's previously contributed to The Intercooler, and placed second in Hagerty’s 2019 Young Writer competition with a feature on the MG Metro 6R4

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like an Alpine A110 or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
xxxx 8 December 2022

Another failing automonous project, well there's a surprized. Next auto car will drop promoting this failing rubbish

Peter Cavellini 7 December 2022

Not in Public control?, well, I think the idea of getting into a Box and sitting down maybe watch TV, catch up on your Work, or depending how far maybe have forty winks!, no, maybe to deliver stuff like Food, Mail would be a use, just can't get the comfort feeling of sitting in something that controlled by a Human and in a Situation between killing a Pedestrian to save the passengers.

Boris9119 7 December 2022

Fully autonomous driving, level 5, is a lofty goal but I am amazed that these incredibly intelligent people in Silicon valley seriously thought the technology and more importantly the infrastructure and regulatory approvals would be in place anytime soon. For the forseeable future level 5 is nothing but a pipe dream.