The demise of the Apple car, the technology giant’s not-so-secret secret project, was perhaps overstated. Apple’s so-called Project Titan, which last year reduced the team by some 200 employees, is not only alive, it has plans to produce an electric passenger vehicle with “breakthrough battery technology” and automated vehicle technology by 2024, according to a report from Reuters.
It’s unclear what the vehicle will look like, who will be the manufacturing partner or if the self-driving system that Apple has been working on will be part of the car or offered as a software product to other companies. The Reuters article builds off of another report from Taiwanese media outlet Economic Daily Times, which describes Apple ramping up orders for auto parts and components from suppliers in the country. Together, the reports offer confirmation that Apple, while quiet and with a smaller team, hasn’t ditched the idea of a car after all.
Reuters sources describe this as a passenger vehicle, which would put Apple in a different category than autonomous vehicle technology companies like Waymo that are trying to commercialize robotaxi services. (Waymo has said that it is also interested in licensing its AV tech for passenger vehicles, but it’s not the company’s first priority.)
The day-to-day operations of Apple’s Project Titan is led by Doug Field, who returned to the company in 2018 after a stint at electric automaker Tesla. Field, who was senior vice president of engineering at Tesla, was one of the key executives behind the launch of the Model 3. Under Field’s leadership, it appears the Apple car might square off more directly with Tesla than say Alphabet’s Waymo.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Apple has moved Field and the rest of the Project Titan team under Apple executive John Giannandrea’s artificial intelligence and machine-learning group.