Apple reportedly kills Apple Car after spending billions, will double down on AI instead

Tim Cook
(Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Apple Car, the long-rumored, never-confirmed object of countless Apple rumors for a decade, is officially dead, according to a new report.

Bloomberg reports that Apple executives informed nearly 2,000 employees working on the Apple Car that the project is being scrapped in favor of other special projects at the company. The report, which cites people who claim to have knowledge of the meeting, also notes that many of those employees will move on to a new artificial intelligence division with a special focus on generative AI.

In addition to some employees shifting to other divisions, others — including hardware engineers — will be allowed to reapply for positions at Apple, according to Bloomberg. It’s unclear what will come of the car designers and other vehicle-specific positions, but Bloomberg’s sources say layoffs are expected.

For 10 years now, Apple has reportedly working on an electric vehicle capable of competing in the highly competitive vehicle market. For a period of time, Apple was reportedly investing heavily in Tesla talent, a move that angered Tesla CEO Elon Musk and caused him to have a very public spat with Apple over the company's plans.

Apple executives never confirmed the Apple Car, but reports would surface of employees hearing revving engines and widespread belief that Apple Car was the most secretive — and arguably important — multi-billion-dollar project at the company.

But over time, Apple discovered that building cars is not the same as building iPhones. Several reports suggested Apple executives were growing tired of the project, with some saying that it wouldn’t fetch the lofty profits Apple expected. While EVs are still popular, Tesla and other manufacturers have been forced to bring prices down to reflect still-sluggish consumer demand. 

Meanwhile, generative AI has taken on a more important role in the broader technology industry, with the perception that Apple is falling behind the likes of Microsoft, Google and others, who have been more active in visibly incorporating AI into their products. That figures to change this year, with Apple reportedly making AI a centerpiece of this year's iOS 18 and iPhone 16 releases.

As for automotive efforts, not all is lost for Apple. The company's CarPlay software has proven exceptionally popular among auto makers. And with new improvements each year, Apple has established a quasi-foothold in the car business, even if it’s not building its own vehicles.

Apple plans to end the Apple Car program in the coming weeks, according to Bloomberg’s report. But don’t expect Apple CEO Tim Cook to discuss it. The notoriously secretive Apple is secretive because it doesn’t want to promise something it can’t or won’t deliver. And that appears to have played out quite well in the case of Apple Car.

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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.