It appears Kia may not be completely out of the running to develop the Apple Car after all.
Reports had claimed that talks had broken down between the two companies, but according to South Korean news site Chosun Biz (opens in new tab) they’re just ”experiencing difficulties." And that could be good news for the Apple Car’s eventual arrival.
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The report said that Apple, Kia, and Kia’s parent company Hyundai already signed a memorandum of understanding last year. This agreed that the companies would be cooperating in eight different areas — one of which is electric cars.
An official told Chosun Biz that: “EV negotiations are experiencing difficulties, but they have not completely collapsed.” All of which means there may still be a chance for the Kia-made Apple Car to go ahead after all.
Word that Kia may be involved in the Apple Car first popped up towards the start of the year. Rumors claimed that Kia was planning on building the car in its Georgia plant, after Hyundai passed on the responsibility.
But the talks were eventually “paused.” Rumor was that Apple wasn’t happy that news of the potential partnership had leaked, and chose to look elsewhere. Apparently the company has approached a number of automakers recently, but without much luck. Evidently those companies had concerns about becoming the “Foxconn of the auto industry," referencing the company that plays a key role in manufacturing iPhones.
Nissan has already outright denied it has been in talks with Apple, and reports claimed that the company didn’t want to make a deal that would leave it as a mere “hardware supplier."
But now Kia may be back in the picture, if this report is to be believed. What’s more, the two companies could potentially work on a bunch of other projects together too. Chosun Biz mentioned discussions about “last mile” mobility, designed to take people the final stretch home between a train station or bus stop. There’s also the potential for the firms to work on IoT, robotics, and naturally autonomous driving systems.
The Apple Car is supposed to be self-driving, but pulling that off is going to be easier if Apple and Kia/Hyundai can pool their knowledge and resources.
Whatever happens, it’s been made clear that the Apple Car has a long way to go before you’ll be able to buy one. Optimistic estimates claim that the car could arrive as early as 2024, though others say that it won’t be here until 2025 or 2026 at the earliest. Apparently that is also an opinion shared by those working inside Apple.
In any case, the fact that Apple’s talks with Kia may not have completely broken down is still good news. At the very least it means the company doesn't have to try to get another carmaker on board.