It’s just as well Apple has scrapped its self-driving car - operating a vehicle by Siri is terrifying for anyone who has tried to get their iPhone to understand a Northern Ireland accent

Apple expected occupants to control its car by using its Siri system

Apple and Ireland have disputed the European Commission’s decision (Yui Mok/PA)
Apple has abandoned its self-driving electric car project

After sinking more than $10 billion into attempting to build a car, Apple has pulled the plug on the project.

Although the tech giant has never officially acknowledged the plan - which also means it hasn’t had to admit the whole thing has been scrapped - its existence has been an open secret in Silicon Valley and the motor industry.

It’s thought that Apple embarked down the car road in earnest about 10 years ago, but quickly discovered that flogging Chinese-manufactured smartphones is a lot less complicated than building a vehicle.

The core of Apple’s problem seems to be that it set itself the completely unrealistic target of making its first car not only electric but also fully autonomous.

Building a reliable car is hard enough but no-one has yet got close to the ‘level 5′ autonomy that Apple was aiming for. Level 5 means the vehicle has neither a steering wheel nor brake or accelerator controls; Apple expected occupants to operate the car through its Siri system - a terrifying prospect for anyone who has tried to get their iPhone to understand a Northern Ireland accent.

Other wrong turns included annoying the car-makers it hoped would help manufacture the Apple car - companies such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, who seem to have walked away from talks with Apple shaking their heads in disbelief - and the fact that even a price of $150,000 wouldn’t turn a profit. The car plan was rumoured to have been called Project Titan; unsurprisingly, it came to be known as Project Titanic.

Elon Musk looking directly at the camera.
Elon Musk's achievement with Tesla highlights Apple's failure to get its car project on the road

If nothing else, Apple’s folly helps put into perspective the achievements of Elon Musk at Tesla. Where EV start-up after start-up has failed or run into difficulty, Tesla has genuinely disrupted the legacy motor industry.

It’s amazing that no-one in an organisation as full of big brains as Apple thought to start off small and copy Tesla. Stuffed with cash and a sense of invincibility, Apple’s hubris meant that, like a tech bros Daedalus, it flew too close to the sun and crashed under the weight of its own ambition and ignorance.