Electric car: No more iCar? Apple is said to have abandoned electric car plans

Is the dream of an Apple car over? For years, new reports and speculations kept the car industry and fans of the iPhone company on tenterhooks.

Electric car: No more iCar? Apple is said to have abandoned electric car plans

Is the dream of an Apple car over? For years, new reports and speculations kept the car industry and fans of the iPhone company on tenterhooks. Now Apple is said to have pulled the plug on the electric vehicle project.

There has been a lot of back and forth over the years: Apple has shown prototypes to suppliers, Apple could buy the sports car manufacturer McLaren, and Apple first wants to develop software for autonomous driving. Just a month ago, the financial service Bloomberg wrote that Apple had scaled back its ambitions and was targeting the market launch of a non-self-driving electric car in 2028.

Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal now also said that the project's 2,000 employees were surprised on Tuesday by the announcement that it was now completely over.

The decision was sealed in Apple's executive suite in recent weeks, wrote Bloomberg. It was previously said that Apple's board of directors had asked CEO Tim Cook and current project manager Kevin Lynch for clarity about the plans after the policy changes and billions in spending in the past.

Apple did not comment on the report. The iPhone company traditionally keeps a low profile when it comes to potential future products. Years of speculation about an Apple television came to nothing - without the company ever commenting on it. The car fantasies also included the question of what the “next big thing” could be for Apple after the extremely successful iPhone.

All that was definitely known was that until recently Apple had been sending test cars converted into self-driving vehicles onto the streets in Silicon Valley. However, media reports stated that Apple had already developed the interior of vehicles and various components at times. The possible price for an Apple car was mentioned at $100,000 - not an unusual amount for top electric models.

However, the outlook for electric car sales has clouded over, especially in Apple's home market of the USA. The pioneer Tesla, which has grown explosively in recent years, has not yet dared to forecast sales for this year. Car giants like Ford, which mobilized resources during the corona pandemic to chase Tesla with electric versions of their large pickups and SUVs, have recently slowed down their loss-making production of electric vehicles. Their US customers currently prefer to buy petrol and hybrid models - after all, this replenishes the coffers of the top dogs. On the other hand, Tesla challengers such as Rivian and Lucid, which are purely focused on electric cars, have no additional source of money to offset their losses.

Some of the developers from Apple's car team will work on software with artificial intelligence in the future, wrote Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal, citing informed people. They should therefore focus on the hot topic of generative AI: programs like the chatbot ChatGPT, which can generate new content based on a huge amount of recorded information. Apple's activities in this area have so far been less visible than Microsoft, which entered into a pact with the ChatGPT developer OpenAI. Apple's car team also includes several hundred hardware developers, as Bloomberg reported. They could be placed in other departments. But there will also be layoffs.

In recent years, frequent personnel changes have also highlighted the unrest surrounding Apple's project, which, according to media reports, was codenamed "Titan". Former Tesla manager Doug Field, who was once appointed as head, went to Ford in 2021, where he is now responsible for the electric car and digital business.

Even when the hype surrounding a possible Apple car has repeatedly made waves in recent years, some industry experts have always been skeptical that the company would actually go through with it. The business of the auto industry is too different, they argued. Instead of compact electronic packages, vehicles would ultimately have to be shipped around the world and maintained for years. The development cycles take years instead of months due to regulatory requirements - and the margins are also much lower than in Apple's core business. Managers from the automotive industry repeatedly pointed out that it wasn't that easy to build a vehicle.

This is probably why there has been speculation again and again that Apple could take a shortcut by buying a car manufacturer like McLaren or a car supplier. Tesla boss Elon Musk claimed a few years ago that he had made an offer to Apple to buy the company amid the carmaker's existential problems when production of the Model 3 high-volume vehicle started. Apple boss Cook did not show any interest in a meeting.

With a launch in 2028, Apple would not have been the first electronics company with its own car: Sony wants to bring the electric vehicle it developed together with Honda onto the market under the brand name Afeela in 2026 and is putting the car on the market before accepting pre-orders next year USA from. Xiaomi, a provider of smartphones and other electronics from China, also wants to start selling its SU7 electric car in its home market soon. Google once developed a small self-driving two-seater, but its sister company Waymo is now incorporating its robotaxi technology into Jaguar electric cars.

And Apple will continue to be present in many cars: for example via the Carplay software for connecting the iPhone, with which services from the smartphone can take over the screen of the infotainment system. Some industry experts are convinced that Apple – and Google with the similar Android Auto service – could challenge established manufacturers for future digital business. They counter with their own digital offerings. And at General Motors, CarPlay and Android Auto are to be left out completely in future electric models.