Apple driverless car relegated to long term parking

© Lucas Jackson
After two years of speculation, Apple’s self-driving car project code-named Titan, may never hit the road. The company announced a strategy shift and is laying off hundreds of employees working on the project.

Company executives have given the project’s team until late 2017 to prove the feasibility of a self-driving system and determine a final direction, sources told Bloomberg.

According to other sources, the team has refocused on developing an independent driving system that automakers could install in their cars and trucks. That would give Apple the chance to partner with existing carmakers.

A large number of the 1,000 people working on the Apple car have been moved off the project, let go, or changed jobs in recent months, people familiar with the project have said.

There have been rumors the company’s leadership had strategy disagreements over the project. Experts said Apple’s decision to move into the automotive market made little sense from a business perspective. Cars and trucks, unlike smartphones and laptops provide a comparatively low return on investment, adding tech investors were used to fat profit margins.

“For a quality Apple-branded car they could probably get a healthy margin,” Eric Paul Dennis, an analyst at the Center for Automotive Research, was cited by Bloomberg.

“They probably weren’t willing to compromise on quality issues," because that could hurt the perception of the company's other products, he added.

Apple started the Titan project in 2014, aiming to start shipping electric cars to customers as early as 2019. The vehicle was expected to recognize its driver by fingerprint and autonomously navigate with the press of a button.

The company made several important hires for the job ahead. Last month media reported the tech giant was negotiating with supercar maker McLaren to join forces in building the vehicle. The British automotive group denied takeover talks with Apple.