Apple car suffers another setback, report says

More car woes for Apple, as a report indicates the company's powerful design chief Jony Ive is displeased with the progress being made by employees of so-called Project Titan.

In a post-holiday assessment of Apple's much-rumored but never confirmed automotive venture, Ive allegedly expressed disappointment at the headway made by the 1,000-strong team dedicated to developing a car, according to a report Monday by AppleInsider. The anonymously sourced report also indicates that the stalled project has resulted in a hiring freeze.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook (left) and Jony Ive at the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook (left) and Jony Ive at the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012.  Photo: Getty Images

For the past year, Apple has been poaching top auto engineering talent from the likes of Tesla and other automakers, according to reports.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources in an article that noted the imminent departure for unspecified reasons of longtime Apple engineer Steve Zadesky, who had been put in charge of Project Titan.

Although Ive is known primarily as the quiet design genius behind the iPhone and Apple Watch, his star has ascended under CEO Tim Cook, who he reports to directly as the company's new chief design officer.

AppleInsider cites a source familiar with the team's activities as saying that Ive "expressed his displeasure" at the Titan team's progress. Last fall, the website noted that Apple might be considering working with BMW - which has two leading edge alt-energy models, the i3 and i8 - on a vehicle.

Google, which has been working on a self-driving car for six years, has long said that it does not intend to build a car on its own but instead would seek a partnership with an existing car maker familiar with the challenges inherent in automobile manufacturing.

If Apple continues with its mysterious plan to build a car, which presumably would be an electric variant, it will have competition not only from Tesla and a growing number of models from companies such as Ford, GM and others, but also from Faraday Future. The Chinese-backed company with Los Angeles headquarters also has been hiring engineers at a rapid clip - some 700 to date - and is about to break ground on a $US1 billion manufacturing facility just outside of Las Vegas.

USA Today