Apple Car: Everything We Know So Far

For the better part of a decade, a car manufactured by Apple has been the subject of speculation. Throughout this time, contradictory information surrounding the project has come from both Apple and the automotive press, Apple Insider notes. As far back as 2013, rumors have described the Apple Car as everything from a C-suite fantasy to a drawing board project to a lock for the mass market coming real soon now.

This article will provide a working timeline of facts and fantasies about the Apple Car from its first press mentions in 2013 up to the present day. In the process, we'll do our best to sort out real numbers and reliable predictions from the constant cloud of rumor. For a project — Project Titan, if you prefer — that has occupied non-negligible mindshare for the better part of a decade, we figure it's high time to sort out what the Apple Car actually is.

2013-2016: Early days, big ideas

Conjecture around the Apple Car first appeared in early 2013. The New York Times writer John Markoff quoted late Apple founder Steve Jobs about the company's ambitions to produce a new car. Apple board member Mickey Drexler corroborated the story (via Fast Company). By 2015, Apple had given its automotive ambitions the name "Project Titan" and put 600 employees on the job (via Business Insider). Around the same time, Apple brought Johann Jungwirth, former president of Mercedes-Benz's North American R&D, into the fold. At this point, it was widely understood that Titan would be an electric car.

Around the same time, San Francisco's KPIX reported on Apple acquiring modified Dodge Caravans equipped with roof-mounted cameras and LiDAR receivers. That suggested autonomous operation. Throughout the Apple Car's timeline, its electric power supply and semi-autonomous system remain a constant vision. By September of 2015, the Wall Street Journal had sources claiming Project Titan would have cars on the road by 2019.

Apple backed up its automotive intentions in 2016 with three new web domains:,, and TechCrunch reported that Apple exec Bob Mansfield would head Project Titan and that the company was looking for established carmakers to partner with.

2017-2020: Titans and troubles

In June 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed to Bloomberg that the company was developing "autonomous systems," to be implemented into cars and other machinery, notably not confirming whether the company intended to build an actual car. Anonymous sources at the New York Times raised further doubts, saying the team was "dogged by its size and by the lack of a clearly defined vision of what Apple wanted in a vehicle."

Things shifted for Project Titan in May 2018. Apple struck a deal with Volkswagen, according to The New York Times, to install its autonomous tech into VW's T6 van to create a self-driving electric shuttle. That August, Tesla's former VP of Engineering, Doug Field, joined Project Titan to assist director Mansfield, CNBC reported.

The upturn in 2018 was followed by a downswing in 2019. With the autonomous shuttle as yet undelivered, Apple announced in January it would lay off over 200 workers from the vehicle team and move even more employees to other parts of Apple (via CNBC). The Verge reported that Apple would acquire self-driving startup that June, but the service and website would later go offline.

2020-2021: Big changes, fresh ideas

Reuters reported in December 2020 that Project Titan was once again focused on developing an in-house Apple car, with a projected release date in 2024. Sources said the car would be an all-electric monocell design. Analysts, however, expressed doubt that Apple could deliver a production car at volume, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In February 2021, anonymous sources told CNBC that Apple was pursuing a manufacturing deal with Hyundai-Kia's Georgia plant. It didn't last; barely a week later, official sources noted the deal was off (via Reuters).

The press heard little about Project Titan until November 2021, when Bloomberg reported rumors that Apple had outfitted a fleet of 69 Lexus SUVs with cameras and sensors for testing and poaching self-driving car lead CJ Moore from Tesla. At the same time, Bloomberg reported, Project Titan prospects took a hard hit when director Doug Field left the project for greener pastures at Ford. The new director would be Kevin Lynch, a key engineer on Apple Watch.

2022 and Beyond: Apple Car's state of play

Despite its misadventures in the last few years, the Apple Car project is still very much alive. Apple hired longtime Ford executive Desi Ujkashevic in May (via TechCrunch). Per the same source, as of Ujkashevic's hiring, Project Titan's target was a roadworthy release by 2024.

That date has since been pushed to 2026, per Bloomberg. Apple's goals are a bit more modest than earlier rumors suggested. Project Titan is currently projecting a final product that is not 100 percent autonomous. Bloomberg's sources say the car will ship with a steering wheel and pedals, but come with extensive software-based driving assists. That puts the Apple Car at Level 2 or 3 of driving autonomy. Level 2 is the current cutting edge, comparable to GM's Super Cruise and Tesla's slightly misleadingly named Full Self-Driving software. Thus far only Mercedes has international regulatory approval for a car with Level 3 autonomy, though Honda also offers its Legend sedan with Level 3 autonomy in the Japanese market.

Whether the Apple Car will qualify as Level 2, 3, or none of the above remains to be seen. Project Titan has thus far been more story than substance. That said, Apple has put its powerful branding behind the idea and given the Apple Car a general release date of 2026, as of December 2022. We'll see.