Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) of California has decided to scale back their automotive ambitions for now at least. The business has asked its top executives to prove until late 2017 that their self-driving car initiative that goes by the name of Project Titan is feasible. A final decision is likely to be taken after this.
It was also learned that about 1,000 people in the Apple team are likely to be reassigned or told to go according to Bloomberg. The company has, however, not gone public with this decision yet. Tom Neumayr, the company spokesperson, declined to comment.
According to the new initiative, Project Titan will now focus on developing autonomous driving systems, which will give Apple the flexibility to design their own vehicles sometime in the future, or partner with existing automobile makers. Apart from firing people in the existing team, the business is likely to also hire those who can help them with the new business focus.
Self-Driving Car Initiatives
Apple is not the first business that has become unsure of automotive success. Google too, their business rival in many ways, has asked for partners.
Many businesses are working on self-driving car or deriver-less car initiatives, such as Google, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Audi, and Delphi among others. However, many of them have suffered setbacks in recent times. For instance, only recently, such automobiles have met with accidents in Singapore and Germany.
Apple might have decided to go slow for these reasons. They want to know for sure whether the technology is ready for these vehicles before taking a final call. Margins in the automotive business are also low – typically below 10 percent.
The Project Titan
Project Titan was started in 2014 with huge ambitions. Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. had estimated that the self-driving car market would be valued at $6.7 trillion in 2030. Interested to become a key-player, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) went on a hiring spree. They wanted to come out with a first version by the beginning of the 2020s. Apple wanted to revolutionize cars, much like what the iPhone did to the mobile industry.
However, there were a lot of troubles by the end of last year. Managers debated the right direction. Steve Zadesky, who was with Ford earlier and an iPod designer too, decided to leave the project. Dan Riccio took over from Steve. There have been months of disagreements, supply chain challenges, and leadership flux as well.