Apple and Hyundai-Kia to join hands for autonomous electric cars, deal at $3.6 billion

Hyundai Motor and Apple Inc plan to sign a partnership deal on autonomous electric cars by March and start production around 2024 in the United States, Moneycontrol reported.

Apple is set to announce a major contract with Kia Motors, worth about $3.6 billion as the company ramps up its efforts to build an electric car. According to the papers, the news could be officially announced as soon as February 17.

Key Points:

  • Apple reportedly is in discussions with Hyundai to produce self-driving electric cars.
  • However, the same reports indicate that both companies also are talking with other prospective partners.
  • These reports are highly speculative, and production may be a number of years into the future.
  • Apple’s vehicle development efforts have had “many twists and turns.”

Apple is close to finalizing a deal with Hyundai-Kia to manufacture an Apple-branded autonomous electric vehicle at the Kia assembly plant in West Point, Georgia. According to one source familiar with Hyundai-Kia strategy, “Chung has made it clear, mobility is the future of the company.” That’s important because the Apple Car will be fully autonomous. Sources familiar with Apple’s interest in working with Hyundai say the tech giant wants to build the “Apple Car” in North America with an established automaker willing to allow Apple to control the software and hardware that will go into the vehicle. In other words, this will be an “Apple Car,” not a Kia model featuring Apple software.   

There is evidence that backs up the publication’s claims. In 2019, Apple purchased self-driving shuttle and car kit startup Drive.ai, acquiring dozens of employees, cars and other assets to add to the ranks of its Project Titan autonomous vehicle development team. Prior to that, a report in 2018 said Apple signed a deal with Volkswagen to convert a number of T6 Transporter vans into autonomous shuttles for its Palo Alto to Infinite Loop (PAIL) pilot program.

Today’s report echoes recent rumblings about a tie-up with Hyundai and Kia, saying Apple is close to reaching a manufacturing deal that will see branded electric vehicles assembled at Kia’s U.S. facilities. Production is tentatively slated for 2024, though the timeline might be pushed back, according to sources. Apple might also tap other automakers to assist in the project separately or in cooperation with Hyundai.

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