The team leading the project has refocused on developing an independent driving system that gives Apple the choice to partner with existing automakers or return to designing its own vehicle down the road, according to Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the project.
For that reason, the future of "Project Titan" is now in flux and its ultimate fate won't be known until next year at the earliest.
When "Project Titan" was first conceived, rumors suggested Apple was working on an electric vehicle, perhaps with autonomous driving capabilities. Development on the car went as far as Apple entering talks with several car manufacturers about a potential partnership, such as BMW, Daimler, and Magna Steyr, but nothing seems to have come out of those talks. Apple also sought locations for testing vehicle prototypes and talked with the DMV about vehicle regulations, but all of that work is how on hold.
The new shift and deadline come after months of strategy disagreements, leadership flux and supply chain challenges inside Apple’s unmarked car labs in Sunnyvale, California, a short drive from its Cupertino headquarters.
Apple isn’t the first to realize mastery of mobile gadgets and software updates is no guarantee of automotive success. Alphabet Inc.'s Google learned the challenges of building its own vehicles and has sought partners. Its car project has also suffered departures. Tech investors are dubious too. They're used to fat profit margins, while carmakers survive on net margins well below 10 percent.
"For a quality Apple-branded car they could probably get a healthy margin," said Eric Paul Dennis, an analyst at the Center for Automotive Research. "They probably weren't willing to compromise on quality issues because that could hurt the perception of its other products," he added.