Apple parks car project in favour of self-driving tech

29 Jul 2016

Having once focused on getting its own car to market as soon as possible, sources within Apple claim that plans to build a car have been parked to focus on autonomous car software.

Despite previous claims that the Apple car project – referred to as ‘project Titan’ within the company – would be fast-tracked to be available by 2019, it appears that its new leadership see better results from software, not hardware.

According to Bloomberg, sources within the company claimed this decision comes following the appointment of former Blackberry software lead, Dan Dodge, who joined the company at the beginning of this year.

Now part of a re-shuffled Titan team, Dodge and the project’s lead, Bob Mansfield, are focusing on getting the autonomous software right before working on the actual design of a functioning car.

Rather than putting the cart before the horse – or, in this case, the car before the software – Apple believes this will give itself enough leeway to account for any changes with the car’s manufacturing.

This also leaves open the possibility that Apple might team up with or acquire an established car manufacturer to build the car, rather than rely fully on its own team.

Substantial budget increase

Last April, it was revealed that Apple had been in talks with a number of European car manufacturers in the hope of securing a deal that would allow a third party to manufacture an Apple car.

Yet, so far, nothing concrete seems to have emerged from these discussions, with German auto-makers BMW and Daimler both pulling out of talks over concerns of car data being uploaded to iCloud.

Meanwhile, the Titan team’s budget has grown substantially in the past four years with Apple’s R&D division seeing a funding increase from $3bn to $10bn in just four years.

Need for new products

The promise of a future self-driving Apple car is one of the company’s most interesting projects from an investor’s point of view, given the company’s recent earnings report showing that iPhone sales are on the wane.

Speaking during a call following the release of the earnings report, Apple CEO Tim Cook touched on the company’s R&D division and how much effort is being put into it.

“The products that are in R&D, there is quite a bit of investment in there for products and services that are not currently shipping or derivations of what is currently shipping,” Cook said.

“There’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing beyond the current products.”

Apple sign image via Osugi/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic