Apple first launched efforts to build a car from scratch under the Project Titan initiative in 2014. Their lofty car production goals were eventually put on the back burner as the company refocused on the software side. In 2018, Doug Fields returned to Apple to help oversee Project Titan after a stint with Tesla. Despite major lay offs the following year—190 people—Apple still managed to make steady progress, and now reportedly suspect they can realistically make a car for the masses by 2024.
Apple reportedly believes they can set themselves apart from their competitors with self-driving technology and a new battery design that could "radically" reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle's range. Anyone who has ever owned an iPhone would be cautiously optimistic about the company's ability to successfully create a so-called breakthrough battery since they have spent the last several years releasing new iPhone models with the same painfully adequate battery life.
The journey to produce a viable passenger vehicle will not be easy, as evident by the fact it took Tesla nearly two decades to turn a profit. But, as one Project Titan employee pointed out, "If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it's probably Apple. But at the same time, it's not a cellphone." One person familiar with car manufacturing forecasts that Apple would need to produce at least 100,000 vehicles annually to make money.
Sources close to Project Titan wonder if Apple will eventually turn to a manufacturing partner to help build their vehicles. CNBC notes Apple was once in talks with Magna about assisting them with manufacturing, but their involvement waned when Project Titan seemed less likely. There's also suspicion that the company will pare down its ambitious effort to integrating their self-driving technology with a car made by a traditional automaker.