Apple has scrapped its secretive multibillion-dollar plan to build a fully autonomous electric vehicle after 10 years in stealth mode.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Apple employees working on the project, known as Titan, have been told to stop working on the electric vehicle.

According to the report, Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams and vice-president of the cars division Kevin Lynch told staff that some of the team would be moved to Apple’s increasingly growing artificial intelligence (AI) division.

As part of the changes, Lynch will also now answer to Apple’s head of artificial intelligence strategy John Giannandrea.

There are also hardware engineers among the near-2000 employees working on Titan, and Bloomberg said that there would be layoffs as part of the move.

Apple has so far declined to comment on the news.

The full-scale retrenching marks the end of Apple’s 10-year-long attempt to build an autonomous electric vehicle, dubbed by the internet as the iCar, to take on the likes of Tesla.

A decade of design

Apple has been working on an electric vehicle car concept since 2014, with news regularly leaked to the media but with no official recognition from the tech giant.

After being giving the go ahead by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company hired a number of major players in the electric vehicles scene to run the division, including Tesla’s former Autopilot software director and the former CEO of electric vehicle startup Canoo.

The company had been planning to develop and sell its own autonomous electric vehicle with a limousine-like interior and voice-guided navigation, but these efforts hit a number of roadblocks with a series of setbacks experienced.

In 2018 former Apple and Tesla executive Doug Field was recruited to lead the project, with more than 200 employees cut from the team soon after.

The following year, Apple bought self-driving car startup, just days before it was to go under, with the tech giant acquiring its assets, including autonomous cars.

By late 2020, Apple was reportedly planning to start making the cars by 2024.

These vehicles would have “next level” battery technology that was like the “first time you saw the iPhone”, according to an Apple insider.

In early 2021 it was revealed that a planned deal between Apple and Kia for the building of the vehicle, said to be worth more than $4.5 billion, had fallen through and would not be going ahead.

Last year Apple drove more than 70,000km using its autonomous driving technology that it developed internally.

Earlier this year it was reported that Apple was considering delaying the release of the electric car to 2028, and also reducing its self-driving capabilities.

The vehicle was set to have a price tag of about $153,000 ($US100,000).

Tesla CEO Elon Musk relished the news of Apple’s electric vehicle division’s demise, posting on his platform X the news along with a salute and cigarette emoji.

Musk has previously revealed that he once tried to sell Tesla to Apple but was rebuffed. He said that he had attempted to organise a meeting with Cook to discuss a sale that would have been worth a tenth of the company’s value by 2020, but the meeting was refused.

Big AI plans

Some of the team working on Titan will be moved to Apple’s generative AI efforts, which it has been ramping up over the last year.

Apple is spending millions of dollars every day on the training of its own generative artificial intelligence model called Ajax, which it plans will compete with ChatGPT.

The company has said it will be launching generative AI features “later this year”.

Apple also recently unveiled the bulky Vision Pro headset, with a price tag of more than $5,000, which utilises hand and eye-tracking technology with external cameras and sensors around the eye pieces.

The tech giant is continuing to invest heavily in new products, spending more than $172 billion on research and development over the last five years.