Apple’s electric vehicle delayed at least four more years

Apple’s long-delayed autonomous electric vehicle endeavor just got pushed back even further. According to a new report from Bloomberg, any chance of finally seeing a glimpse of the tech company’s top secret Project Titan car won’t happen until at least 2028, around two years later than Apple’s last estimated release window.

On top of kicking the car down the road (again), Apple’s ambitions to offer a fully driverless luxury vehicle have reportedly lowered significantly: company executives are now apparently willing to settle for a “Level 2+” system, an automation rating used by the global professional standards organization, SAE International. An Apple car classified at Level 2+ would hypothetically put its capabilities on par with Tesla’s currently available, much maligned Autopilot technology. When properly operating, a Level 2 or higher vehicle should be capable of assisting acceleration and brake controls, such as adaptive steering to stay within lanes, or a real-time responsive cruise control.

It’s a steep lowering of expectations from Apple’s early hopes of releasing a Level 5 car capable of driving “in all conditions… everywhere,” per SAE’s tier descriptions. Achieving the highest rating would ostensibly reduce drivers to passengers, with a car’s AI controlling all aspects of travel, without a human needing to take over responsibilities.

[Related: The first Tesla Cybertrucks have arrived.]

Apple’s vehicular aims date all the way back to at least 2014, when rumors of a project codenamed Titan or T172 first began circulating. Early designs reportedly nixed the inclusion of a steering wheel and pedals entirely, before eventually settling for somewhat more realistic goals. Even then, however, expectations for an industry redefining moment on par with the iPhone’s introduction have allegedly continued to temper over the subsequent years—despite being “one of the company’s most expensive research and development projects for the better part of a decade,” reported Bloomberg.

Since Titan’s inception, Apple has annually poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the project for engineering, closed road testing, cloud-based AI systems, and salaries. In 2021, Titan’s former project lead left the company, reportedly because he thought the car ultimately would never see the light of day. Apple then revised its release window the following year, at the time hoping to have a car ready for public reveal by 2026.

To this day, even the slightest hints of a prototype remain MIA, but Apple apparently could start making real headway now that it is eyeing much more achievable tech goals. Alongside its newest timeline, the company is reportedly considering additional management changes, as well as hardware and software engineering alterations.

By now, however, many at Apple allegedly view an EV rollout as ultimately being a “me-too product,” i.e. a vehicle that doesn’t set a new standard, as much as join a growing roster of sleek EVs. Currently, Apple’s biggest foray into automotives is CarPlay, onboard software that integrates iPhone features like Siri, maps, and music.

[Related: Apple may owe you some cash after settling a false advertising lawsuit.]

Say what you will about Tesla’s Cybertruck (seriously, say all that you will), but at least it is finally out in the real world. Even with revised hopes, it certainly seems like the prospect of seeing an actual Apple EV is further down the road than ever.