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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Apple cancels plans to build its own electric car brand

Remember in 2017 when Apple shook the world with news that it was venturing in the electric vehicle (EV) business with plans to build a driverless car? It was going to be the mother of all AI projects according to Tim Cook, the company’s CEO.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. And clearly, one purpose of autonomous systems are self-driving cars,” Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg at the time. “We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on and so autonomy is something that’s incredibly exciting for us, but we’ll see where it takes us.”

Well, a bit over 5 years later and the project is a bust. The news was announced by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman who says that most of the project’s workers would be reassigned to generative AI initiatives, and others would likely be laid off.

The project joins a list of other failed initiatives from Apple including Apple TV and the Paladin.

However, instead of being labeled a failure, investors and other industry experts have lauded Apple for making a tough but necessary move.

Ever since the project was announced, the general consensus has been that Apple was out of its depth and the resources being sunk in the project could be utilized to grow areas that it was already strong at.

And with the continued explosion of generative AI, that seems like a great area that Apple can narrow its focus and reap maximum benefits.

It helps that the EV driverless industry has not been particularly flourishing. The grand dream of  battery-powered, driverless vehicles becoming the main means of public transportation have been replaced by the harsh reality that consumers are looking for what’s most affordable.

Consequently, investments in the industry has slowed and production in factories paused. As Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights puts it, if Pure EV players like Rivian and Lucid, companies that are exclusively making plug-in vehicles, are struggling to find customers, imagine how more challenging it would have been for Apple.

“Affordability is an increasing problem and since Apple isn’t going to want to sell an entry level EV, that leaves them with an increasingly tight premium market,” he said.

Apple had a far better chance of developing a suite of hardware and software needed to enable autonomous driving than it had of making a complete EV driverless car from scratch.


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