Apple scales back ‘Project Titan,’ effort no longer includes building own car

“Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project,” Mark Gurman and Alex Webb report for Bloomberg. “Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public. ”

“New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said,” Gurman and Webb report. “Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person.”

“Apple executives have given the car team a deadline of late next year to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system and decide on a final direction, two of the people said,” Gurman and Webb report. “Apple started Titan in 2014 with grand ambitions to make a dent in an auto industry… Bob Mansfield, a highly regarded manager who helped develop the original iPad, returned in April from a part-time role at Apple to lead the team. About a month later, Mansfield took the stage in a Silicon Valley auditorium packed with hundreds of Titan employees to announce the strategy shift, according to people who attended the meeting. Mansfield explained that he had examined the project and determined that Apple should move from building an outright competitor to Tesla Motors Inc. to an underlying self-driving platform.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bob, Bob, he’s our man! If Bob can’t do it, nobody can!

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. — Steve Jobs

Betcha Project Titan leads to a shipping product eventually.

Apple’s Bob Mansfield reboots Apple Car project, lays off several dozen employees – September 10, 2016
South Korea company’s never-before-revealed battery technology expected to be Apple Car’s ‘secret weapon’ – August 9, 2016
Apple Car: Everything we know about Apple’s mysterious ‘Project Titan’ – July 29, 2016
Apple Car: An operating system licensed to other auto-makers? – July 29, 2016
Apple hires founder of QNX with Apple Car project increasing focus on self-driving software – July 28, 2016
Apple taps Bob Mansfield to oversee Apple Car project – July 25, 2016
Apple veteran Steve Zadesky overseeing electric-car project leaving company – January 22, 2016
Apple is building their largest startup ever – October 1, 2015
Why it’s time for an Apple Car – October 1, 2015
The deeper reason for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Volkswagen emissions scandal spotlights need for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Morgan Stanley: Apple Car, if true, ‘one of the most important moments in transportation’ – September 22, 2015
Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz: Apple Car ‘is going to be a gigantic money pit’ – September 22, 2015
Apple speeds up electric-car efforts, aims for 2019 ‘ship date’ – September 21, 2015
Apple meets California DMV officials to discuss ‘autonomous vehicle’ – September 18, 2015
Documents confirm Apple is building self-driving car, Project Titan further along than many suspect – August 14, 2015
Apple Car development proceeds apace – July 27, 2015
Apple hires veteran Fiat Chrysler auto industry executive – July 20, 2015
What’s up with Carl Icahn’s sudden obsession with the Apple Car? – May 18, 2015
Survey: 77% of hybrid or electric vehicle owners would likely buy an Apple Car – May 13, 2015
Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world – February 22, 2015
Bob Mansfield’s new role at Apple is to focus on chips – August 3, 2013
Is Apple flying the pirate flag again? Mansfield move means something special is in works – August 1, 2013
Gruber: Nothing to read between the lines, Bob Mansfield really is working on ‘special projects’ for Apple – July 29, 2013
Apple’s Bob Mansfield to focus on ‘special projects’ – July 29, 2013
Apple removes SVP Bob Mansfield from executive team; will remain at Apple reporting to Tim Cook – July 28, 2013
Un-retired: Why Bob Mansfield is back at Apple in a big way – November 1, 2012
Tim Cook takes full control of Apple: John Browett and Scott Forstall out; Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi get expanded responsibilities – October 29, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook expands executive team, Senior VP Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield will not retire – August 27, 2012
Brain drain? Apple’s Bob Mansfield is 2nd key exec to leave since Steve Jobs died – June 29, 2012
Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, to retire; Dan Riccio to take over – June 28, 2012


  1. In this area, the puck may have already gone. Dawdling about trying to figure where you’re going to skate is a losing strategy in the emerging vehicle field. OTOH, having the cash to buy any existing carmaker is a great spot to start. But the Watch Edition can’t be the goal, even Series2. I has to be the Watch Sport to reach enough market to make an impact.

    What I perceive is missing is clarity of purpose. Tesla, the example for new generation carmakers, has the clear goal of moving the world toward carbon-free transportation and a strategy to do that. It is a challenging strategy, but it exists. What would Apples goal be? If they can’t state it on the back of a business card, they’re probably still too confused.

    1. And for all you know that is happening or has happened. Leadership isn’t carried out for outsiders convenience, consumers & industry at large not privy to what goes on there. We all know areas Apple can improve upon but we don’t know how they might be getting addressed internally at Apple. We only trust that they are and wait for the great gratification that hopefully ensues.

    2. The Goldman comment on “Go Big” on content or Apple Prime is a slam at Cook that the market is moving away from Apple. And they are in follower mode now. Apple should have had a content. Bundle years ago. Bundle in movie / tv content / music / cloud / and annual refresh products on IPhone, IPad, and MacBooks.

    3. Punishing hard? Down between 0.1 and 0.5% on a day the markets are down about the same and in the mid-high level for the past 5 trading days. No, today’s action is nothing more than baseline noise.

      Sheer Trumpism – you’re just making sh*t up like you know what you’re talking about.

    4. “The market is punishing AAPL shares hard today.” Hmmm. At market close, AAPL was down 0.07% compared to DJI down 0.29%, NASDAQ down 0.27%, and S&P 500 down 0.30%.
      Not sure what “punishing AAPL shares hard today” means, but if it means “doing better than the major indices” you’re right.

    1. I totally agree, if Apple isn’t actually going to build the car (at least in the sense that they build the iPhone) then I am not sure that a self drive system is a logical alternative plan. To me this was always the least important aspect, self drive cars despite the BS won’t be particularly relevant (as opposed to self drive assistance to drivers) for many a year. So it was important only in regards to what might happen in the future not the crux of the project itself.

      In what way would Apple offer this to the industry generally? Its unlikely that they are ahead of others, including manufacturers themselves and we all know how well Apple technology in others products has worked out for various reasons they usually simply devalue the Apple brand and experience. Plus few car companies would likely be interested in such cooperation, Apple simply isn’t trusted to be a good companion at that level and its highly unlikely it would offer much that would be exclusive or superior in its system if not totally integrated in its own package under its control. Hell we suffering enough now because of Intel in our Macs.

      No they would be far better to invest in other avenues closer to home, so that they are not being embarrassed by devices like the echo when they had all the ingredients, but none of the vision to create that device despite the technical press hinting at Apple doing it years before the echo came to market.

      What the company needs is someone inspirational on the product front to make the decisions that Cook clearly does not feel competent to do alone. If that is not Ive then what Apple needs more than anything is to locate someone who can so some focus can be re-created. At the moment they are looking too much like Microsoft were i.e. looking for things to happen then try to copy or buy the tech and produce and develop it in-house. And then like siri failing to keep up with the original vision in so doing

  2. Hey cook

    how bout “Project Mac Computer update” !!!! ? get back to what apple has done best….

    it’s way past time and you are PO-ing lots of long term mac enthusiasts on this one….

  3. I never saw Apple making it’s own car. Apple would have wanted to make something that whilst not cheap would have appealed to a broad segment of the market. The thing is, people have a range of different uses for cars – hence why so many sizes and styles are sold. Far better to offer a solution that improves the comparatively poor elements of existing cars (the software and integration of electronics) and maybe even buy there way into the market. I just didn’t see them doing a Tesla and starting off small and you can’t just jump in from scratch and be a multi-model car manufacturer.

    1. Agreed, mxnt41. We have been debating the rumors of an “Apple Car” for years on this forum, and the majority opinion was that Apple should focus on key functionality within the car and integrating the transportation ecosystem rather than building the entire car. Apple does not even manufacture its own iPhone or iPads. What makes people think that Apple should jump into building entire cars?

  4. ANYONE ever involved in a well run, ambitious, new tech project knows that there is a ton of uncertainty, direction changes, cuts and hires as one refocusses on the goals based on lessons learned. If a firm just barrels ahead, ignoring lessons as they unfirl, or avoids ambitious projects, then and only then are things both predictable and likely disasterous. These changes are anything but. These are signs of wise leadership, implemented without fear. This is why neither company decisions processes NOR political ones should ever be amde public. Period. Read that wikileaks and the apple leakers alike.

  5. I think the self-driving stuff is still so early on and so many things to sort out that Apple has decided to take a wait and see approach. They don’t need to be first mover here and burn gobs of R&D with a murky outlook on what will be profitable in this space. Will it be a physical car or might it be an OS and platform play? Time will tell. Like many other products in the IoT space, I’m sure car manufactures vs. likes of Apple, Google, Uber will be fighting over who owns the data.

  6. The auto industry of America is a massive, powerful body, with enormous influence with the government. Coupled with even more massive, even more powerful oil industry, they have the ability to severely restrict competitors’ entry into the market. Tesla is learning it the hard way; even though they are competing in the tiny top sliver of the market (high-end luxury), they are hitting roadblocks everywhere.

    Apple’s intention would likely be broader than Tesla’s, as would the industry’s resistance. Perhaps Apple needs more time to weaponise their entry into this market in order to overcome the certain fierce resistance from the fossil-based players.

    MDN is likely right; the car-building project is probably not completely scrapped; just re-booted and pushed into the ‘Phase II’ category.

  7. Raking through the coals of all the Car rumors, it’s my sense that Apple has been looking for a car manufacturing partner for years. They’ve approached a wide variety of companies (according to rumors). It was rather hallucinatory of them to jump at some point into the goal of designing their own car.

    Perhaps Tesla will relent and invite Apple to join in their autonomous driving software, which clearly isn’t ready for prime time and continues to attract scrutiny from governmental types.

    Google’s spinning-camera-on-a-rail system remains unimpressive, clunky and primitive. They don’t apparently care to take the system further. Apple may have a decent opening here. But Apple won’t settle for sticking a gizmo on the top of someone else’s car. Apple will, as usual, integrate the software and hardware to the maximum possible extent, making it better than Google’s kluge.

    1. I agree, Google’s attention span is way too short to see their self-driving car system to the end.

      Apple, on the other hand, has the potential to save a lot of lives. And make some money in the process.

    2. I’m really struggling to believe that Apple would give up on designing a car to focus only on the interior software interface and autonomous navigation. It just doesn’t add up. They need to design the whole widget. Remember how well the Motorola ROKR came out? Yeah…

      Perhaps Apple’s recent interest in the McLaren subsidiary is directly related to the downsizing of the Cupertino Titan team. Maybe Mansfield came to the conclusion that they didn’t have the right people in the talent pool to design a car of the future. But the McLaren subsidiary did.

      1. Teaming with high end makers is fine, but if the goal of Apple is to create a car that most people can afford to drive they’ll have to deal with the major car makers.

  8. Common sense finally prevails. You don’t see car manufacturers building smartphones now do you? Apple, stick with what you do best, I would say computers (no Mac refresh), but now its smartphones.

  9. In the past 20 years I have purchased 4 vehicles all of which had serious problem – the last 2 were a Volkswagen TDI (and in Canada there has been no settlement) and recently a Volvo XC 90 T8 inscription Hybrid-this vehicle lasted 3 days before the electrical system self fried with only 150 Km on the vehicle . Apple just might have brought a level of quality that does not yet exist .

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