Apple has reportedly taken a knife to its “worst kept secret” plans to build autonomous electric cars.
According to a Bloomberg Technology report citing un-named “people familiar with” its “Project Titan,” hundreds have been reassigned, let go, or voluntarily quit from a team that numbered around 1,000 people.
The project is not canceled altogether, however, just whittled down, and for now refocused toward developing an autonomous drive system that could be sold or licensed to other automakers.
Alternately, Apple still has options open to go back to the full-bore effort of designing and building its own car(s), and is staffing accordingly.
The car team has been reportedly given a deadline of late next year to prove its self-driving system’s feasibility, and decide a direction for which it should be taken.
No comments were offered by an Apple representative on the report which is otherwise being made in a matter of fact tone by Bloomberg Technology.
Why would it pull back from its former full-steam-ahead approach? This is open to discussion, but reasons could include Apple is realizing it is not as easy to crack into the car business as it originally thought.
An analyst, Eric Paul Dennis, from the Center for Automotive Research also suggested potential problems could hurt Apple’s otherwise extremely lucrative business.
“For a quality Apple-branded car they could probably get a healthy margin,” he said. “They probably weren’t willing to compromise on quality issues” because, he added, this could damage brand perception for its other products.
Apple’s change in direction to its Sunnyvale, Calif. car labs comes after months of reported disagreements on strategy, supply chain challenges, and changing leadership.