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Apple Car talks 'paused' with Kia and Hyundai — what's going on?

Apple Car concept
(Image credit: Erick Martinez / iDrop News)

Earlier this week, it appeared that things were seriously gaining momentum for the Apple Car’s rumored unveiling. Apple had reportedly invested $3.6 billion in Kia as part of a planned manufacturing partnership, with the electric cars to be built at the company’s Georgia-based plant.

But it appears that talk of this being a done deal was premature. Bloomberg reports that while talks with Kia and parent company Hyundai have indeed been ongoing, they have recently paused according to “people familiar with the situation.” 

The site’s sources added that similar plans have also been discussed with other auto manufacturers, but the article doesn’t expand on which ones or how serious the discussions are. One source added that one issue is a dispute within the Hyundai group as to whether Hyundai or Kia would be tasked with manufacturing the vehicle, though the report adds that the latter is the most likely choice “if” talks resume.

As you would expect for a top secret project like this, Apple declined to comment. But there are enough clues to show that the company has big ambitions in the auto space. While Apple has plenty of cash, it would still be more sensible to partner with an established vehicle manufacturer, rather that going it alone. And, as the Bloomberg report points out, there are only a few companies in the world with both the capacity and ability to mass produce vehicles. 

Not every automaker necessarily welcomes a partnership with Apple, which reduces the choice further. Hyundai is clearly open to the idea, even if it did back away from its original statement of intent. That could mean this is just a bump in the road; we're still many years away from release, so there’s plenty of time for talks to pause without substantial delay — just as long as they don’t permanently stall.

While we have heard rumors suggesting the Apple Car could emerge as early as this year, that seems utterly fanciful considering that talks with potential manufacturers are still ongoing. We’ve also heard 2024 mooted, which seems more likely, but renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes it’ll be later still, suggesting that it’ll be 2025 at the very earliest