For Apple fans eagerly waiting for the long-rumoured Apple car to become a reality, I have some good news and bad news. The good news: Word is Apple has been chatting with Hyundai and Kia about collaborating on an electric vehicle. The bad news: Those talks have apparently stalled.
People familiar with the matter said Apple recently hit pause on its discussions with the two Korean auto manufacturers, per a Friday Bloomberg report. The sources, who spoke with the outlet under the condition of anonymity, added that Apple has also been hitting up other automakers for similar plans.
It’s unclear whether its discussions with Kia and Hyundai will resume or when that might be. Apple declined Bloomberg’s request for comment. Gizmodo has reached out to Apple, Kia, and Hyundai and will update this blog should they respond.
Rumours about Apple working on a self-driving electric vehicle, which it called Project Titan, have been circulating as far back as 2014. But the rumour mill ramped up in recent weeks following some purported drama between Hyundai, which owns a controlling stake in Kia, and Apple.
You see, Hyundai’s execs apparently got a little too excited after Apple approached them to work together on an electric car and rechargeable batteries, and spilled the beans on the proposal to local media — a sacrilegious offence for a company as notoriously tight-lipped as Apple. Shortly after Hyundai claimed it was reviewing Apple’s proposal, the company furiously backpedaled and issued a new statement saying that several global automakers, including Hyundai, were in early talks with Apple about a potential partnership. But then Hyundai apparently had second-thoughts and backtracked even further just to be safe, scrubbing all mentions of Apple in an updated statement.
A few details about the potential partnership have surfaced, though it goes without saying that they should be taken with a grain of salt. In January, Reuters, citing a report from local media outlet Korea IT News, stated that Hyundai and Apple planned to sign a deal on the project by March. The report claimed that the project would aim to produce 100,000 cars by roughly 2024, manufacturing the vehicles either at a Kia Motors factory in Georgia or at a brand new U.S. facility. Moving forward, the plant would be capable of producing 400,000 cars at full annual capacity. A “beta version” of the Apple car would have been slated to release next year, according to the report.
It doesn’t seem like the parties involved were too keen about these details getting out, though, as an update erased the bulk of them from the report, per Reuters. It’s unclear how Apple pausing these discussions would affect these potential timelines.
We previously theorised that Hyundai may have burnt bridges with Apple by running its mouth off about the proposal too soon, and this recent turn of events certainly seems to support that. Apple may or may not be putting these talks to rest for now to focus on shopping around for another partner, but if it is, we definitely have an idea why.