You won’t be driving a car with that distinctive white chomped-apple logo on the front of it any time soon, it seems. Apple’s widely-rumoured electric car project has had the brakes put on it both from the inside and the outside, with the tech giant apparently having problems securing deals with automotive parts suppliers to actually, y’know, put a car together.
First reported by Bloomberg, the abandonment translates to hundreds of jobs either being reassigned or not replaced after departures from within the company’s Project Titan division, and an internal reorganisation to focus on self-driving systems that can be integrated into existing car-makers’ platforms rather than an entirely new vehicle designed from the ground up by Apple. The project has until the end of 2017 to prove its worth internally, according to the source, but the shift away from a complete, vertically-integrated hardware package to a software-and-hardware solution for other brands to use is a significant setback.
This actually isn’t entirely surprising to anyone that’s been following the travails of Tesla over the past few years as a point of comparison. The US electric car startup had to turn to a relatively small Australian upholstery specialist called Futuris to build the seats and interior headlining for its Model S sedan, without the contacts and reputation to contract a larger and higher profile supplier like Recaro. With time and success demonstrating that Tesla wasn’t a fly-by-night operation, it was able to secure terms with Recaro for the Model S’ third-generation seats.
Apple’s autonomous system — if it ever eventuates — will likely find a home as the core operating system and self-driving system of an American car company, we think. General Motors already has basic assisted driving functionality in the Holden Eye forward-facing camera in the new high-tech Astra, and is a natural partner for Apple. It’s hard to think of a car manufacturer that isn’t already deeply invested in researching autonomous tech, and Apple’s tech competitors like Nvidia and Mobileye already have a significant head start in road-testing hardware. [Bloomberg]