Kia West Point Georgia factory photographed from the airKia West Point Georgia factory photographed from the air

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Hyundai-Kia and tech giant Apple cool their flirting over iCar production plan

Time 6 months ago

In an on-off relationship that would put two teenage lovers to shame, the courtship of Korean firm Hyundai Kia and tech giant Apple seems to have cooled – again.

Rumours began to emerge a month ago that the two firms were dating as Apple looked for a manufacturing partner to help make its Apple Car project a reality.

Yesterday, the partnership intensified as reports from the States suggested Kia could make Apple’s ‘iCar’ in its West Point factory in Georgia (main image). 

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Apple contracts third parties to make its tech products, like the iPhone – which are completely designed and specified by the firm – but they leave the manufacturing to experts. 

It is thought Apple wants to do the same with its car, due in 2024.

It wants full control of the software and hardware designs, but for an automotive production expert to deal with making it. Tesla famously ran into problems as it ramped up production for the Model 3, proving how hard it is to get right.

However, as it looked like the automotive and tech giants would finally hold hands in the dark yesterday, Hyundai got cold feet and announced it was ‘not having talks with Apple on developing autonomous vehicles’, despite previously stating the exact opposite a few weeks ago.

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The Korean firm said: ‘We are receiving requests for co-operation in joint development of autonomous electric vehicles from various companies, but they are at an early stage and nothing has been decided.’

Read into that what you will, but it certainly doesn’t look like a complete ‘no’ to the relationship, more of a lovers’ tiff.

Apple never was looking for a partner to ‘develop’ its autonomous vehicles after all – merely one to manufacture them. 

Hyundai and Kia shares fell as a result of the announcement.

The rumour mill in the States now suggests Apple could be flirting with other car manufacturers. Analysts have predicted Stellantis or General Motors could be options for the iPad maker.

Just don’t tell Hyundai Kia, they’ll be very upset Apple is ‘cheating’ on them…

The Apple car plan – dubbed Project Titan – has been on-off for years. The firm has long held ambitions to compete in the automotive market and with tens of billions of profits generated every quarter and a huge cash pile, the firm has the money available to make it work.

It was thought the project had been canned completely until recently, when reports emerged that Apple had been secretly testing its car which would be mass marketed and have self driving capabilities, like Tesla models.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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