Apple's Project Titan Ends: Lessons for Automakers on Balancing EV Tech with Customer Experience

Apple's closure of its once-heralded 'Project Titan' turns a spotlight on the auto industry's pivot, underscoring the pressing need to fuse cutting-edge EV innovation with customer-first design philosophies.

Michael Higgins

Co-Founder, Managing Director

Published on 

February 29, 2024


Last updated on 

February 29, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Apple EV Project Halted: Long-planned electric vehicle venture 'Project Titan' ends, underscoring auto industry's complexities.
  • Lesson in Overreach: Focussing excessively on EV technology risks neglecting overall user experience.
  • Customer-Centered Design Urged: Future mobility solutions should be adaptable and align with real-world user behaviors.

News broke last week that Apple is shutting down its electric vehicle project after nearly a decade of work. As first reported by Bloomberg, Apple is scrapping its ambitious plan to design and build its own passenger EV. Codenamed "Project Titan," Apple's automotive endeavor employed hundreds of engineers and designers with the goal of launching an Apple-branded electric car to compete with Tesla.

After years of shifts in strategy and leadership, along with billions spent, Apple has ultimately decided to walk away from creating its own car. The shutdown of Project Titan signifies Apple's struggles to crack the complex auto industry, despite its track record of hardware innovation.

More broadly, Apple's failure highlights potential risks for automakers who become overly obsessed with electric vehicle innovation while losing sight of the human experience they need to design for. As the auto industry charges ahead with its electric transition, embracing EV technology cannot come at the cost of creating mobility solutions tailored for real customer needs.

Apple's Electric Vehicle Project Timeline

Apple's efforts to develop an electric vehicle first came to light in early 2015 under the internal codename Project Titan. In 2014, Apple began recruiting hundreds of engineers and automotive experts to work at a laboratory in Sunnyvale, California. This marked the start of Apple's ambitious plan to design and build an Apple-branded electric car.

Over the next few years, Apple invested billions of dollars into Project Titan as it worked to build out a team of over 1000 employees including poaching talent from Tesla, Ford, GM and other automakers. However, the project suffered repeated setbacks due to shifting goals, leadership issues, and internal struggles over the project's direction.

Apple scaled back its initial plans to design a full self-driving electric vehicle, instead shifting to focus on developing the underlying autonomous driving software and systems. After nearly a decade of work and billions spent, Apple officially closed down the project in February 2024.

Why Apple's EV Struggled

Despite over a decade of work on Project Titan, Apple struggled to develop a clear vision and strategy for its electric vehicle. Much of the difficulty stemmed from engineering challenges inherent in designing and manufacturing an entirely new car model.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Apple encountered issues related to battery technology, vehicle interiors, and self-driving software. The company initially aimed to build a fully autonomous vehicle, but had to significantly scale back its plans over time.

Without previous automotive experience, Apple underestimated the complexity involved in coordinating a massive supply chain and ensuring compliance with safety regulations. The project suffered from unclear leadership, changing priorities, and lack of a coherent long-term roadmap.

In the end, Apple failed to develop a compelling value proposition or differentiate its EV offering beyond simply having an Apple badge. This highlighted the risks of relying too much on strong engineering capabilities without a focused customer-centric vision.

The Risks of Over-Focusing on EV Innovation

The transition to electric vehicles is critical for the future of the automotive industry. However, in this push towards electrification, legacy automakers run the risk of becoming overly focused on EV innovation at the expense of customer needs and the overall mobility experience.

While engineering marvels like increased range, faster charging times, and advanced batteries are crucial, automakers can't forget about the human element. People don't just need transportation from point A to point B - they desire flexibility, convenience, affordability, and an enjoyable mobility experience.

If legacy automakers become overly focused on the engineering side of EVs while ignoring customer pain points, they risk falling behind new mobility providers designing holistic mobility ecosystems around human behavior and needs.

Building Flexibility into Mobility Solutions

One key way automakers can design mobility ecosystems around human behavior is by building in flexibility to accommodate customers' changing needs. Traditional car ownership and leases lock users into rigid terms, while mobility services aim to provide adaptable solutions.

Mobility solutions add flexibility for fleets. New products and services offer greater freedom than fixed-term lease contracts.

For example, subscription services allow users to swap vehicles on-demand based on their evolving requirements. This customer-centric model contrasts the static approach of simply selling EVs.

Accommodating change over time is crucial. Mobility companies that focus on flexible mobility solutions can better serve users.

Balancing EV Innovation with Human-Centricity

As the automotive industry transitions to electric vehicles, legacy automakers face the challenge of balancing EV innovation with a human-centric approach to mobility. While advancements like longer range batteries and faster charging are important, automakers cannot lose sight of designing experiences focused on human behavior and customer needs.

Engineering-led innovation often overlooks the human element. Automakers must study how drivers actually interact with vehicles in the real world. This ethnographic research leads to human-focused mobility solutions.

The future requires automakers to blend EV technology with empathetic design. Companies that ignore customer pain points and needs in favor of the latest battery chemistry or drivetrain risk missing the bigger picture. Experience must be elevated over engineering alone to shape the next generation of mobility.

The Customer-First Approach

The key to designing successful mobility experiences is understanding that mobility is about more than just transportation - it's about improving people's lives. Companies need to build flexibility into their mobility solutions based on actual customer pain points and needs.

For example, car subscriptions as an alternative to ownership or leasing. This gives customers flexibility to switch between vehicles as their needs change. Loopit's customer-first model focuses on choice, affordability and experience.


As Apple's struggles show, automotive innovation requires a balance between engineering excellence and customer-centric thinking. Legacy automakers focusing solely on electric vehicles risk losing sight of the bigger picture. The future of mobility lies in experience-driven ecosystems built around human needs. This demands researching actual pain points, embracing flexibility, and considering the human element at every step.

Companies should place the customer first. The road ahead calls for automakers to pair EV innovation with mobility solutions tailored to real people. They must blend electric technology with research-backed offerings meeting customers where they are. Only by fusing electric vehicles with human-centric mobility ecosystems can the industry transition successfully.

About the author
Michael is the co-founder and managing director at Loopit, a SaaS platform specialising in new mobility initiatives such as car subscription, rideshare and digital rental solutions. When he’s not launching new businesses, Michael enjoys motorsports, racing cars himself as well as boating.
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