Skip to main content

When Apple announced a car project, many folks I talked to said, “That makes sense.” Now, as it is quietly closing the project, folks are again saying, “Yeah, that makes sense.” We’ve changed a lot in a decade.

The Apple Car project began and ended at very interesting times in my career. When Apple officially announced its car project (late 2015) I had just moved to Silicon Valley. I wasn’t a journalist yet, but was writing case studies for tech companies. Now, Apple has announced it is giving up its car project. Nearly a decade later, I’m not only an automotive journalist living in Detroit, but I feel I’m writing to a very different audience than existed in 2015.

I remember that when Apple announced its car project, many people applauded it. They loved their apple products and were frustrated by the seeming lack of progress in cars. Tesla was just getting started and an Apple car seemed liked an even better way to shake things up.

The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander interior and dash
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander with Apple CarPlay | Toyota

Over the decades, a series of things have changed. I think the biggest shift is that many automotive startups have come and gone. Seeing companies such as Lordstown and Fisker Automotive showed up with big promises. But then they discovered that designing a car and bringing it to market is a very hard project.

Apple was always going to be a self-driving car company. In 2015, automakers were promising that self driving was just around the corner. There were mutterings of full self-driving being just six more months of development away. Companies such as Tesla and Uber even planned to lose money until fully self-driving cars would change their business strategy forever. Twenty 6-month increments later, and it’s looking a lot more difficult to teach a computer what a human driver does.

It’s interesting that in the past 10 years, technologies such as EVs have most certainly “disrupted” the automotive industry. But in 2015, many of us thought that disruption could come from a company that had never made a car before. Now, we expect the more experienced companies will drive much of the change.

Next, find out why the Cybertruck won’t be Tesla’s ‘iPhone moment’ or learn more about the end of the Apple car in the video below: