Why Europe Must End Its 30-Year Digital Winter to Ensure Its Long-Run Future

Remember the Titan: Apple Sunsets Electric Vehicle Moonshot

It’s lights out for Apple’s dream of entering the electric vehicle (EV) marketplace.

A Tuesday (Feb. 27) report reveals that the Cupertino, California, personal computer and smartphone pioneer is abandoning its EV plans, sunsetting what was referred to internally as Project Titan.

The effort, first started in 2014, spent billions of dollars in pursuit of a fully autonomous EV product featuring luxury interiors and voice-guided driver experiences. It has now stalled out.

Facing ongoing setbacks, the company’s most recent approach to salvage its EV division was pushing back the car’s eventual launch to 2028 and reducing the self-driving benchmark from Level 4 to Level 2+ technology, turning the car into more of a standard EV than a truly autonomous machine.

But even with those concessions, it was not to be.

Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and the single individual observers believe to be most responsible for the rise of EVs, used the social platform he owns, X (formerly Twitter), to comment on the news with two emojis: a saluting face and a cigarette.

Per the report, Apple will be shifting many of the nearly 2,000 employees staffed on Project Titan’s EV ambitions under the Special Projects Group (SPG) to work on Apple’s artificial intelligence (AI) projects, where they will report to AI executive John Giannandrea.

Still, the signs were there that Apple’s commitment to entering the automotive market was waning. In January, PYMNTS reported that DJ Novotney, a key veteran executive at Apple within Project Titan, was leaving the company after nearly 25 years to take a job with electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive.

Apple, as of writing, has not yet replied to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

Read more: Earnings Season Shows Electric Vehicles’ Road to Ubiquity Has Curves and Bumps Ahead

Cooling EV Market

Against the backdrop of the global EV market, Apple’s move to abandon its car division may seem to be prescient.

Earlier this month, Swedish car manufacturer Volvo announced that it will no longer provide further funding to its affiliate, Swedish electric car brand Polestar, which it created with Volvo’s majority shareholder Geely through a special-purpose acquisition company merger in 2022.

The news came on the heels of French automaker Renault recently announcing the cancellation of an initial public offering (IPO) for its electric-car unit Ampere, originally slated for the first half of 2024.

And the increasing costs in the EV sector led to a Q3 2023 loss of over $1 billion for Ford Motor’s Model e, its electric car division.

As PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster explained this past December, the problem facing that EV ecosystem today is there were not enough early adopters to create sufficient demand for suppliers of charging stations, so the U.S. lacks the density of fast charging stations that later adopters of EVs would require to give up gas.  And investors in EVs may have underestimated the importance of that and overestimated the willingness of consumers to overlook battery anxiety based on the enthusiasm of those early adopters.

Still — given the state of current self-driving technologies in 2024 — Apple aiming for a fully autonomous consumer vehicle was also an ambitious goalpost, particularly given that the company was a last, not first, mover in the EV space.

But on the voice-activated front, Apple was right on the money. PYMNTS Intelligence has found that hands-free in-car voice technologies are increasingly being embraced by consumers who are looking to integrate intuitive, simple and connected elements into their everyday routines.

Read also: What Electric Vehicles, Impossible Foods and Buy Now, Pay Later Teach Us About Early Adopters

Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From (Product) Tree

Apple is one of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world, and frequently holds the crown as the single most valuable.

The billions it spent on Project Titan are just a blip on its balance sheet — but also underscore how the company can falter outside of its core areas.

Particularly given how successful those core areas are. Apple’s AirPod product made waves when it was revealed that the device’s revenue alone — not Apple’s — was more than other tech platforms’ entire businesses, including companies like Spotify, Airbnb, DoorDash and eBay.

And Apple has scrapped products before, having shelved its plans to make a TV in 2015.

The company recently launched its Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, its first new product category in almost a decade, and is reportedly investing $1 billion per year to integrate generative AI across its product line.