Apple sat at a crossroads of indecision that led to Project Titan's slow death

Posted:
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A detailed report on Apple's decade of Apple Car development reveals five ditched concepts, hubris, and executive failings.

Apple Park viewed from Apple Maps
Apple Park viewed from Apple Maps



Analysts will no doubt examine Apple's worst-kept secret, Project Titan, for years. With every new report, tidbits emerge that were forgotten with time or never shared outside of closed doors.

The latest story from Bloomberg paints a bleak picture of indecision that ultimately led to the demise of Apple Car and Project Titan. In the decade since 2014, Apple has spent an estimated $10 billion on the project and produced at least five prototypes.

The most interesting takeaway from this winding history is Apple's various design targets. Prototypes included Jony Ive's so-called "Bread Loaf" with club seating, Kevin Lynch's "I-Beam" which lacked a windshield, and the uninspired final prototype that could have passed for a Tesla.

The Bread Loaf would have had Level 5 autonomy. It lacked a steering wheel and had a video game control pad in case the rider needed to take control. It was basically a minivan with a glass roof, whitewall tires, and sliding doors.

The I-Beam was a symmetrical pill-shaped nightmare that lacked front or rear windows. It isn't clear how a rider would take control without seeing out of the front end.

Every prototype that came and went saw multiple redesigns and feature changes, but nothing ever made it to the production stage.

Executives at the top would veto any requests from employees who wanted to scale back the project. An unnamed Apple executive is quoted as saying, "you could have done this 10 years ago" after a recent version included pedals and a steering wheel.

With the end of Project Titan, the 2,000 or so employees face reassignment or layoffs. Many are said to be relocating to Apple's ambitious AI initiatives, which are expected to surface later in 2024.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,257member
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    grandact73dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 32
    jimcordjimcord Posts: 31member
    Just millions? Try hundreds of millions or several billion to just start to build the infrastructure to make a car even Apple eventually knows when their hubris has gone to far. 
    dewme
  • Reply 3 of 32
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,912member
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    Tell me, how much cell phone experience did Apple have before entering that market? Any car Apple would build would be a computer on wheels, the same way phones today are computers that make calls now.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. 
    byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 32
    red oakred oak Posts: 1,092member
    What a shi* show this whole effort was.  Aimless.  Indecisive.  Bloated 

    Responsibility falls on TC and the senior management team

    it’s okay to say “No”.   It’s not okay to take 10 years and 2,000 people to get there 

    grandact73
  • Reply 5 of 32
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,079member
    You lost me at "a story from Bloomberg..." This the same Bloomberg that reported the Big Hack chinese spy chips that are rampant?
    Alex_Vsbdudetdknoxdewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 32
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 809member
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    Tell me, how much cell phone experience did Apple have before entering that market? Any car Apple would build would be a computer on wheels, the same way phones today are computers that make calls now.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. 
    With the iPhone, one could envisage its future: digital cameras, digital videos, digital personal assistants, digital music players, etc all already existed. All the memes about the many devices that have been absorbed into a phone put testament to that. People had been waiting for years to combine them all into one device. Apple was best at doing so, and is doing the same again with the Apple Watch. These products are not "computers in your pocket" and "computers on your wrist" - they are each functionalities that previously existed separately, bundled together using computer technology.

    I don't see the same with cars. It's not just about having a "computer on wheels", it's about what you can do with computer technology on wheels for which you previously needed to use other products. Beyond driverless steering which bundles-in the driver, I can think of no other functionalities or products that could be combined in a car (well, we did want cars that fly; but not even Apple was developing that). Although would love to hear some ideas.
    edited March 7 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 32
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    Tell me, how much cell phone experience did Apple have before entering that market? Any car Apple would build would be a computer on wheels, the same way phones today are computers that make calls now.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

    A phone ain't a car.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondongrandact73dewme
  • Reply 8 of 32
    No way an Apple car is a 🚐 minivan. Ugh 😑 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,277member
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    Tell me, how much cell phone experience did Apple have before entering that market? 
    Introduction to what's involved courtesy of Motorola? 
    edited March 7
  • Reply 10 of 32
    gremlingremlin Posts: 64member
    I think once the EV market collapses in the next year or so people will look back on this move by apple as the right thing to do
    sflagelibillwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 32
    XedXed Posts: 2,619member
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    What expertise did any car company have before they existed? You mention Apple buying Rivian and Tesla so why doesn't their lack of expertise and experience before they made a single automobile carry over to your argument that if you hadn't done something before that you should never try to do it?

    Land and millions of dollars available, you say? How could they ever manage that. LOL
    edited March 7 ihatescreennameswilliamlondonbyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 32
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,337member
    I suspect it’s mostly due to autonomy being far harder than the AI nerds thought. Take away the autonomy and it’s a lot harder to figure out a business model for an Apple car. 
    muthuk_vanalingamsflagelentropysbyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 32
    XedXed Posts: 2,619member
    alexjenn said:
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    Tell me, how much cell phone experience did Apple have before entering that market? Any car Apple would build would be a computer on wheels, the same way phones today are computers that make calls now.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

    A phone ain't a car.
    It's also not a Mac or an iPod.. and PC guys aren't just gonna walk in and figure it out. 🙄
    williamlondonbyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 32
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,337member
    rob53 said:
    They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. 
     :D :D :D  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 32
    XedXed Posts: 2,619member
    blastdoor said:
    I suspect it’s mostly due to autonomy being far harder than the AI nerds thought. Take away the autonomy and it’s a lot harder to figure out a business model for an Apple car. 
    I think Project Titan wasn't a lot more than just trying to make a car. That would be easy for Apple. I think Apple was trying do something very future forward with autonomy, like you mentioned, and they used the automobile as a catalyst for that testing. They got what they needed from it and/or it hit a dead end in the research so it's now over. Why that is a black mark against Apple is odd considering the wonderfully excessive Google Labs that are created and fizzle out constantly.
    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,277member
    blastdoor said:
    I suspect it’s mostly due to autonomy being far harder than the AI nerds thought. Take away the autonomy and it’s a lot harder to figure out a business model for an Apple car. 
    For those curious about what a fully-autonomous car "sees". Yes, it's full-autonomy, no driver.


    The view is from both the occupant and the vehicle software at the same time.
    edited March 7
  • Reply 17 of 32
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 268member
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    Tell me, how much cell phone experience did Apple have before entering that market? Any car Apple would build would be a computer on wheels, the same way phones today are computers that make calls now.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. 
    And old boss once told me, it's easier to take a large project and shrink it down than it is to take a small project and scale it up. Apple already made PDAs, and already knew how to miniaturize technology. Making a car requires thousands more parts than anything Apple currently makes. Your comparison is flawed, at best.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 32
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 268member
    Xed said:
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    What expertise did any car company have before they existed? You mention Apple buying Rivian and Tesla so why doesn't their lack of expertise and experience before they made a single automobile carry over to your argument that if you hadn't done something before that you should never try to do it?

    Land and millions of dollars available, you say? How could they ever manage that. LOL
    Both Tesla and Rivian purchased factories previously established by automakers. I forget, which manufacturing plant did Apple buy in the intervening ten years they've been hacking away at a car?
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondondewme
  • Reply 19 of 32
    1348513485 Posts: 351member
    gatorguy said:
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    Tell me, how much cell phone experience did Apple have before entering that market? 
    Introduction to what's involved courtesy of Motorola? 
    Introduction to what's involved courtesy of Ford, GM, Tesla, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Lucid, and dozens of others. This is not an "unknowable" field that requires some sort of shamanistic intuition. It's manufacturing at scale.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 32
    1348513485 Posts: 351member

    sbdude said:
    Xed said:
    rob53 said:
    Apple was correct in dumping Project Titan. They don't have any expertise in building any type of car. They would need land and millions of dollars worth of manufacturing equipment. If they wanted to buy Rivian for a fire sale price to get manufacturing facilities and some expertise, I might go for it but they'd need to do a lot of work on fixing Rivian's vehicles plus come up with a respectable sedan. There is room for an American EV manufacturer, Tesla can't build all the EVs without building several more manufacturing facilities. 
    What expertise did any car company have before they existed? You mention Apple buying Rivian and Tesla so why doesn't their lack of expertise and experience before they made a single automobile carry over to your argument that if you hadn't done something before that you should never try to do it?

    Land and millions of dollars available, you say? How could they ever manage that. LOL
    Both Tesla and Rivian purchased factories previously established by automakers. I forget, which manufacturing plant did Apple buy in the intervening ten years they've been hacking away at a car?
    They don't need a large plant to build one-off prototypes. But that aside, there are manufacturing plants available. Modern automotive plants incorporate well understood design considerations, and can be built. How much money do you want to throw at it? None of these comments present real barriers to entry. The problem was Apple management and commitment, as well as their understanding of the industry and market.
    sflagelwilliamlondonbyronlwatto_cobra
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