The idea of a self-driving, electric Apple Car is tantalizing and news reports suggest Hyundai is the latest automaker to want a piece of the action. The buzz started with a report in the Korea Economic Daily in which a Hyundai Motors executive said the automaker was one of a number of global carmakers in early talks with Apple about a possible partnership. The story said Apple approached Hyundai about producing the electric car and supplying batteries—Korea is a global leader in lithium-ion battery cells.
Apple is a notoriously secretive company, so we were not surprised to read a subsequent statement from Hyundai that specifically does not mention Apple: “We’ve been receiving requests of potential cooperation from diverse companies regarding development of autonomous driving EVs, but no decisions have been made as discussions are in early stage.”
But a source familiar with the negotiations tells MotorTrend that yes, Hyundai is in talks with Apple for “consumer-focused technology and potentially a vehicle.”
Apple has not responded to requests for further information.
But we have been down this road before. MotorTrend rendered a possible Apple Car back in 2016. It was part of project Titan, an initiative that dates back to 2014 had high profile execs (many from Tesla) and an army of about 1,000 people working to design an Apple car for sale in 2019.
Their work revealed just how hard it is to make a vehicle from scratch. The project was downsized two years later, and many of the roughly 1,000 people working on it were let go or left. Efforts at Apple continued, but it appeared the project’s new focus was on autonomous driving technology rather than a complete vehicle.
Apparently efforts ramped up again—after all Elon Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla has taken over as the richest man in the world, and after 17 years Tesla is reporting profits.
News reports are that Apple’s continued work will yield self-driving technology it hopes to use in a passenger car—not a shuttle or pod—that is on the road toward the end of 2027. Reuters says Apple is also working on its own battery technology that would radically reduce cost. Tesla also is working on a new battery that Musk says will cut costs significantly.
But it appears Apple will tap an existing automaker to manufacture the vehicle. Past talks with contract manufacturer Magna failed to reach an agreement. And no one is ruling out a scenario where Apple sources someone else’s electric vehicle and installs its own autonomous driving tech.
When it comes to Apple, all we can say is: Stay tuned.
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