Apple’s Car Project Fails: The End of an Ambitious Endeavor


Apple's Car Project Fails: The End of an Ambitious Endeavor

Apple Inc. is a tech giant renowned for its innovation and disruptive products, having launched world-changing devices like the Mac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. However, Apple has also experienced lesser-known failures, among which the most notable is its car-making project. Known as “Project Titan,” it was one of the most ambitious endeavors in Apple’s history, aiming to create a fully autonomous electric vehicle without a steering wheel or brake pedals. Yet, this project went through numerous changes, delays, restructurings, and layoffs, ultimately being terminated in February 2024. 

The origins of Apple’s car project trace back to 2014 when Apple CEO Tim Cook authorized a secretive initiative called “Project Titan” to develop an electric vehicle in the Apple style. Apple hired hundreds of experts from the automotive, battery technology, and artificial intelligence sectors, along with executives from competitors like Tesla, Ford, and BMW, to form a large car-making team. Steve Jobs, one of Apple’s co-founders, had expressed interest in car-making before his death in 2011, and Cook also saw car-making as Apple’s next major innovation. 

The initial goal was to create a fully autonomous electric vehicle without a steering wheel or brake pedals, a design that would have completely revolutionized the traditional automotive industry. Apple planned to launch its first car around 2020 and even negotiated with BMW to use the chassis of its i3 model. However, Apple’s car project quickly encountered various difficulties and challenges, leading to slow and unstable progress. 

There was disagreement among senior management regarding the goals and strategies for the car project. On one hand, CEO Tim Cook and some executives wanted Apple to control the entire car-making process, including design, production, sales, and service, as it does with its other products. On the other hand, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive and other executives believed that Apple should focus on developing the software and user experience for the car while outsourcing the hardware and production to other manufacturers. This disagreement led to unclear directions and frequent changes in the car project’s focus. 

The technological challenges of making a car far exceeded Apple’s expectations. Although Apple had extensive experience in designing and manufacturing electronic products, it was a newcomer in the automotive field, facing complex engineering, logistics, supply chain, and safety issues. Apple encountered numerous technical problems in battery technology, autonomous driving systems, vehicle sensors, and human-machine interaction, without effective solutions. Apple also struggled to find suitable automotive manufacturers and suppliers for collaboration and instead attempted to establish its own car factories, increasing the costs and risks for the company. 

Apple faced competition not only from traditional automotive giants like Toyota, Volkswagen, and General Motors but also from leaders in electric and autonomous vehicles such as Tesla, Google, and Amazon. These competitors had strong technological, brand, channel, and financial advantages, and continuously launched new products and services, putting immense pressure on Apple. Moreover, Apple had to comply with automotive regulations and standards in various countries and regions, such as emissions, safety, testing, and certification, which are often complex and changing, adding uncertainty and obstacles to Apple’s car project. 

Due to these issues, Apple’s car project did not progress smoothly and experienced several delays, restructurings, and layoffs. In 2016, Apple decided to abandon the car-making plan and instead focus on developing software and services for vehicles. In 2017, Apple obtained a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California but only used a few modified Lexus SUVs. In 2018, Apple restarted the car project, but with significantly reduced scale and ambition, planning to launch a conventional electric vehicle around 2024. In 2020, Apple announced a collaboration with Hyundai on car-making, but the negotiations were quickly terminated due to disagreements. In February 2024, Apple finally announced the termination of the car project, reallocating some of the car team’s employees to the artificial intelligence department, while others faced the risk of layoffs. 

The failure of Apple’s car project negatively impacted Apple’s stock price, primarily due to the market’s loss of expectation and confidence in Apple’s automotive venture, as well as the imbalance between Apple’s investments in and returns from the car-making field. The project’s failure also cost Apple a significant growth opportunity, preventing it from competing with leaders in electric and autonomous vehicles such as Tesla, as well as from collaborating or contending with tech giants like Google and Amazon in the field of artificial intelligence. In the automotive industry, aluminum alloy die castings are indispensable.

Aluminum alloy is a lightweight, high-strength, corrosion-resistant, and recyclable metal material with excellent casting and formability, making it an ideal choice for vehicle lightweighting. Aluminum alloy die castings are parts made by injecting molten aluminum alloy into molds using a die-casting machine, characterized by precise dimensions, smooth surfaces, complex structures, and stable performance. The role of aluminum alloy die castings in car manufacturing is mainly reflected in the following aspects:

Reducing vehicle weight, improving fuel economy, and enhancing performance. Aluminum alloy’s density is only one-third that of steel, so replacing steel parts with aluminum alloy die castings can significantly reduce the vehicle’s weight, thereby lowering fuel consumption and emissions, and enhancing acceleration and braking performance. It’s estimated that reducing the vehicle’s weight by 1kg can save 0.6–1L of gasoline and reduce 20–30g of CO2 emissions. Currently, the average weight of aluminum alloy die castings used in vehicles is about 150kg, expected to reach 250kg by 2025.

Enhancing vehicle safety and comfort. Aluminum alloy die castings have good energy absorption and damping properties, effectively absorbing and dispersing the impact force generated during vehicle collisions, protecting passengers and the vehicle. Additionally, aluminum alloy die castings have excellent heat dissipation and thermal conductivity, effectively reducing the working temperature of the engine, gearbox, brakes, and other components, extending their lifespan, improving efficiency, reducing noise and vibration, and enhancing vehicle comfort.

Lowering manufacturing costs and environmental impact. The manufacturing process for aluminum alloy die castings is simple, with high production efficiency, precision, stable part quality, and minimal subsequent processing, saving material and energy consumption, and reducing manufacturing costs. Moreover, aluminum alloy die castings are corrosion-resistant and recyclable, extending vehicle lifespan, reducing waste and pollution, and aligning with the automotive industry’s green development principles.

Regarding die casting, one cannot fail to mention Honjenny (HJY).

Honjenny (HJY) is a professional manufacturer of aluminum alloy die castings, providing high-quality die casting solutions across various industries. Founded in 1996 and trademark registered in the United States and the European Union, Honjenny (HJY) is a die casting enterprise with a global vision and competitiveness. Honjenny (HJY) possesses five core capabilities: die casting, cosmetic packaging, CNC precision machining, 3D printing, and sheet metal processing. Its die casting products are widely used in automotive, electronics, communication, medical, machinery, home, and other fields, including engines, gearboxes, car bodies, wheels, chassis, radiators, battery boxes, mobile phone cases, laptop cases, router cases, medical devices, power tools, lighting fixtures, door and window accessories, etc. Honjenny (HJY)’s product quality has been certified by ISO9001, ISO14001, ISO45001, RoHS, and others, earning recognition and praise from customers worldwide. Honjenny (HJY)’s die casting clients include world-renowned brands like Dior and Happyflute. Honjenny (HJY) aims to become a leading provider of die casting products and services both domestically and internationally, creating value for customers and contributing to society. Its core values are customer-centricity, quality as the essence, innovation as the drive, and integrity as the foundation.

This article explores the process, reasons, and impacts of the failure of Apple’s car project, the role of aluminum alloy die castings in car manufacturing, and the die casting business of Honjenny (HJY), aiming to discuss Apple’s limitations in innovation and disruption, as well as the development opportunities and challenges in the die casting industry.

Related News