BMW and Daimler, parent company of Mercedes, have ended talks with Apple after the companies were unable to agree on both who would lead operations for their proposed Project Titan car and who would own customer data, it was reported on 21 April.
It was revealed in 2015 that Apple had shown interest in working with BMW and its i3 electric car. Apple CEO Tim Cook was reported to have visited BMW's i3 production facility in Leipzig, Germany, to better understand how the car is manufactured.
But after a promising start, German publication Handelsblatt claims Apple wants the car, known internally as Project Titan, to integrate closely with its existing cloud services. BMW and Daimler, however, have made the protection of customer data a key priority in their future, internet-connected vehicles, a move that is seemingly at odds with Apple's plans.
Sources speaking to the German news site claim discussions between Apple and BMW broke down last year, with ties with Daimler being severed more recently. It was revealed earlier in April that Apple is searching for manufacturing partners for its car from a secretive bureau in Berlin with 15-20 headhunting employees. The bulk of Project Titan is based close to its California headquarters, and is believed to have more than 1,000 employees working on it.
Now that BMW and Daimler (and with it, Mercedes) have parted company from Apple, the iPhone maker could turn to Magna, a Canadian-Austrian construction company recently rumoured to be targeted by Apple.
Magna currently assembles the Mini range for BMW; its lower profile will make it a better-suited partner for Apple, allowing the iPhone maker to steer the project in the direction it wants, rather than allowing companies, who are already household names and leaders in their own industry, to lead the overall project.
Earlier this week (19 April), Project Titan revealed Apple had hired Chris Porritt, former chief engineer at Aston Martin and more recently, a vice president at manufacturer Tesla. It is understood Porritt is now the highest-ranking automotive employee within the Project Titan division.
Born in September 2014, Project Titan is said to have a loose target release date sometime in 2020. The Apple car has been described, by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as "an open secret" in Silicon Valley. The car will likely be all-electric and feature some autonomous driving features.