Just last month, Apple registered three new urls: apple.car, apple.cars and apple.auto. Earlier this month, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said it is an “open secret” that Apple is working on an electric car. “It’s pretty hard to hide something when you hire over 1,000 engineers to do it,” Musk said. Everybody and his brother knows the effort is code named “Project Titan.”
In August, Apple poached top software engineer Jamie Carlson from Tesla, where he was intimately involved in developing Tesla autonomous driving Autopilot program. In September, word leaked that the big bosses at Apple had approved a request to triple the size of the Project Titan team. Steve Zadesky, who previously worked as an engineer at Ford, was placed in charge of the expansion.
But now, word has leaked that Zadesky has suddenly left the company for “personal reasons,” according to Newsweek. A report by AppleInsider dated January 25 claims that Apple’s head of design, Jony Ive, has placed a hold on hiring for Project Titan. Insiders report Ive has “expressed his displeasure” with the way the Project Titan process is going.
A report in The Wall Street Journal dated January 22 suggests the project has run up against a number of challenges. Team members are said to be unhappy with the lack of “clear goals for the project.” They also say management is insisting on performance deadlines that are unrealistic. It is thought that 2019 is the target date for introducing an Apple Car, but that may just be the date when final design approval is expected.
Apple has no car manufacturing experience and no car factory. Even the irrepressible Elon Musk seems to have been chastened by how hard it is to actually build automobiles. Back in September, AppleInsider speculated that Apple had approached BMW about partnering to build its car. Apple apparently was impressed with the innovative BMW i3 electric car and thought it might make a suitable platform for its own vehicles. BMW seems to have been less interested than Apple was, however.
Have the wheels come off the Apple Car project? The company is notoriously secretive about its future plans, but if the rumors are reliable, Project Titan seems to be in serious trouble.
Photo credit: Silvery/Creative Commons via Newsweek