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Apple Car reportedly cuts key driverless features as release target slips to 2028

Published Jan 23rd, 2024 1:55PM EST
Apple Car
Image: Apple

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A few months after the latest report on Apple Car, it seems Cupertino’s Project Titan is at another make-or-break point, as the company is now lowering expectations for the firm’s upcoming new product.

According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple has pivoted to a “less ambitious design with the intent of finally bringing an electric vehicle to the market.” While previous reports expected the company to introduce a truly driverless car, Apple is now aiming at a Level 2 of automation, which adds steering and brake/acceleration support, such as lane centering and adaptive cruise control, at the same time.

With that, Apple Car would be more of an EV than a breakthrough driverless car. People with knowledge of the matter said Apple plans to introduce the vehicle in 2028, at the earliest.

Previously, the company wanted to introduce a car with Level 4 technology, which would allow driving the vehicle under limited circumstances, such as local driverless taxis without pedals or steering wheels.

This change is seen internally as a “pivotal moment for Apple’s car” as the company will finally deliver this product with reduced expectations “or top executives may seriously reconsider the project’s existence.”

Gurman reports: “The prior design for the vehicle called for a system that wouldn’t require human intervention on highways in approved parts of North America and could operate under most conditions. The more basic Level 2+ plan would require drivers to pay attention to the road and take over at any time — similar to the current standard Autopilot feature on Tesla’s EVs.”

That said, Apple could release this Level 2 vehicle and then upgrade the system with Level 4 autonomy support at a later date. Still, 2028 feels too soon for this release.

Apple Car seems more unlikely to launch with each new report

Over time, BGR reported how many drawbacks and changes in leadership this product had. Seven months ago, I wrote that, despite renewed chatter, Apple Car didn’t seem anywhere close to launching.

At the time, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said on CNBC that the only question about the Apple Car is “when, not if” it will launch.

While the Wedbush analyst said the exact same thing in 2021 about Apple entering the electric vehicle market, it seems the Cupertino firm is still struggling with this project. Over almost ten years, BGR has reported on drawbacks, changes in the project’s core, executives departing the company, and the dissolving of an entire team.

At the time, Ives still believed a 2026 announcement was possible, which aligns with what Bloomberg reported at the end of 2022. In March, top insider Ming-Chi Kuo said the team behind the project was dissolved, and it would take up to six months to align expectations and decide what to do next. Now that six months have passed, the project doesn’t look like going anywhere.

That said, little do we really know about the long-rumored Project Titan: a 2026 launch window with a “less ambitious” design, as Apple plans to enter a new market two years after starting selling its spatial computer Vision Pro headset – according to Bloomberg.

BGR’s Yoni Heisler wrote an interesting piece about Apple Car’s future last year. In the article, he brings up something he wrote a long time ago, which still makes sense:

Personally, I don’t think Apple has concrete plans to release a car to production by 2020 or any specific date in the future. Rather, I think Apple has put together a team to explore the possibility of developing a car. More to the point, I think Apple is assembling a group of extremely smart individuals in order to assess the viability of further research. I think Apple’s car ambitions, at this point, represent nothing more than a typical R&D project, albeit on a grander scale.

While Apple is still unsure of what it will announce – or if it will ever announce something on the EV market – we’ll have to wait for future reports. That said, the company should start looking for another source of income, as mixed reality and EV markets won’t be the solution for weakening revenue.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.