Earlier this month, Hyundai has reportedly been on track to sign a partnership deal with tech giant Apple for autonomous electric vehicles by this March, according to a report by Korea IT News as quoted by Reuters.
Now, a report by Korean site eDaily suggests that Hyundai will instead hand over responsibilities for the self-driving EV project to Kia, and that the development and eventual production will take place at Kia’s factory in Georgia, United States. The report speculates that Hyundai has decided to distance its brand from the Apple car project out of brand reputation concerns.
The fear is that the Korean automaker will “become an OEM factory” for the autonomous EVs if Apple, rather than Hyundai takes the lead in the manufacture of the self-driving car project. As it stands, the project was revealed to involved outside partners for parts such as its lidar systems.
Discussions about the self-driving car project are said to be still ongoing, and the matter has not been decided yet, the Korean news outlet quoted Hyundai as saying.
The timeline for the self-driving car project by the Cupertino, California-based tech company dates back to Project Titan in 2015, which Apple then scaled back in 2016 to a revised focus on developing autonomous driving technologies, rather than a complete car. A report emerged at the end of December that the Apple car project has restarted, with a revised debut target of 2024.
Kia’s own EV products so far include the e-Soul, the Niro EV, and most recently revealed its strategy of releasing seven new electric vehicles by 2027, for private and commercial customers alike. All of these will be built upon the Hyundai Group’s Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), and offer fast charging capability.
Kia at this point also stated its commitment to diversifying into environmentally-friendly mobility services, in major cities centred on autonomous electric vehicles.
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