Apple will terminate 190 employees working in the self-driving car program, Project Titan in California. This was revealed by the company in a filing with the state regulators.

The layoff will take effect from April 16 and cover eight Santa Clara County facilities located near to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman also confirmed that the layoffs will be in the self-driving car unit.

The layoffs are a big shake-up in Project Titan after Doug Field took over in 2018. He rejoined Apple as Vice President of Special Projects after quitting the position at electric car maker Tesla.

More details on the autonomous car project

Though the iPhone maker has been active in the self-driving cars space, details were limited as to which all technologies it is pursuing and the core focus. There was no clarity whether they were working on the full vehicle, computer system sensors, or software.

But the new filing with the regulator confirming the jobs reduction throws some clear idea on that front. The outgoing workers include software engineers, machine learning engineers, and hardware engineers, according to Apple’s letter to California employment regulator in February.

Apple has been working the car project on a “need-to-know” basis with just 5,000 personnel out of the brand's 140,000 full-time workers. This was disclosed in the documents submitted in court in connection with a trade secrets case against a former employee.

The car project has 1,200 “core” employees “who are directly working on the project."

In another filing with regulators Apple claimed that despite the workforce reduction plan, it has been able to ramp up testing on California roads.

Apple said it logged nearly 80,000 miles of testing in California in 2018 against 1,000 miles it covered in 2017. But that is still lower than Alphabet Inc’s (Google) Waymo that made a record of 1.2 million logged miles in California during 2018.

Results of revenue stress

Apple has been working on autonomous car technology since 2014. Other companies in the fray include Google, Uber and Nvidia, and carmakers General Motors and Daimler.  GettyImages-Apple Logo The Apple logo is displayed in an Apple store in lower Manhattan on August 2, 2018 in New York City. Photo: Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

However, analysts do not miss the timing of layoffs. They notice that the terminations coincide with 15 percent revenue fall faced by the company in the last three months of 2018  on the back of plummeting iPhone sales. CEO Tim Cook described the revenue loss as “disappointing.”

Commenting on Apple’s lay off plans, Lynx Equity Strategies said in a report that there is a high probability that Apple will close the self-driving car division completely.

“A sudden shortfall in iPhone revenue is causing a level of distress within Apple that is forcing it to make hard choices,” it observed.