Elon Musk Tesla
Elon Musk has reacted to reports claiming Apple has abondoned its long-rumoured electric car project. Wikimedia Commons

Tesla chief Elon Musk has reacted with characteristic sarcasm to reports suggesting Apple is planning to abandon its electric car project.

People familiar with the matter recently told Bloomberg that Apple has scrapped its decade-long efforts to build an EV (electric vehicle), hinting at the end of Project Titan, which many believed could revolutionise the auto industry.

Musk, who is known for his bluntness, reacted to the news by posting a saluting face and cigarette emoji in an X post. "The natural state of a car company is dead," the tech mogul wrote in a follow-up post.

Reacting to the news, Ben Bajarin, chief executive of consulting firm Creative Strategies said: "If it is true, Apple will put more focus on GenAI and that should give investors more optimism about the company's efforts and ability to compete at a platform level on AI," per Reuters.

The New York Times has shed more light on the turmoil inside the Project Titan team, citing conversations with "a half dozen people who worked on the project over the past decade".

Some of these details have previously been shared by Wall Street Journal turned New York Times technology reporter Tripp Mickle in his book, "After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul".

Apple wanted to buy Tesla

The rumour mill has been churning out speculations surrounding Apple and a Tesla acquisition for a while now. In December 2020, Musk revealed that he "reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla" during the "darkest days" of the Model 3 development.

In an interview with CNBC, Craig Irwin, senior research analyst at Roth Capital Partners, noted that there was a serious bid from Apple at around $240 a share, around 2013.

"This is something we did multiple checks on. I have complete confidence that this is accurate. Apple bid for Tesla. I don't know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible," the analyst said without disclosing his sources.

In his book titled, "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century Tim," Higgins, a Wall Street Journal reporter, mentions details about a conversation between Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

However, Musk denied these claims in a series of tweets back in July 2021. Responding to a question about whether he would consider the prospects of partnering with Apple, Musk noted that he doesn't think "they want to have that conversation".

Nevertheless, a 2016 report suggests Musk's EV company hired Apple's former director of reliability engineering, David Erhart, as its new senior director of the Reliability and Test division.

Was an Apple EV really in the offing?

Despite their sustained efforts in a relevant direction strongly suggesting their seriousness in pursuing such a project, Apple never publicly acknowledged their intention to manufacture an EV.

As early as 2014, the Cupertino-based tech behemoth began hiring automotive executives, further fuelling speculations surrounding the impending arrival of an Apple EV. In April 2017, the company obtained a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving vehicles.

Further bolstering its self-driving ambitions in 2019, Apple acquired Drive.ai, a relevant startup, and later in 2021, it hired a BMW veteran who had spearheaded its electric vehicle development.

As if that weren't enough, Apple secured a slew of car-related patents, including one for a virtual reality system that eases motion sickness, and another for adjusting the tint on a window in real-time.

some experts speculated that Apple was more likely to team up with established car manufacturers by offering a car operating system, self-driving software, or other related technologies. In other words, they believed the Tim Cook-led company would not attempt to build and sell the entire vehicle themselves.