After half a decade of limbo, it looks like Hyundai and Kia may be getting serious about putting the Apple car into production. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the family of automakers is looking for partners to build Apple cars at Kia’s Georgia factory, where up to 100,000 units a year could be made.
So far in 2021, the Apple car has been on a rollercoaster of will-they-won’t-they flirtation with the Korean auto conglomerate. By December 2020, the canned Project Titan was back on, and come January this year, Hyundai entered the frame. The specific plan was then discussed to build Apple cars at Kia’s West Point Assembly Plant in Georgia, but in early February, Hyundai was getting nervy that building the thing might wreck its reputation.
According to the Wall Street Journal piece, the deal—which isn’t done yet—would be worth $3 billion and be aimed at getting cars built by 2024, three years earlier than the previously believed 2027 production date.
Although it’s understood that Hyundai-Kia aren’t the only parties Apple has approached to build its car, it is the one that seems the most persistent. Hyundai itself has tried to downplay the likelihood of a deal and Apple has never acknowledged the talks; however, the fact remains these cars aren’t going to build themselves, so Apple needs a partner and Hyundai’s stock has soared 23 percent since it came into the picture. Despite executive nerves about the venture, there are some obvious benefits.
By palming the project off on sub-marque Kia, Hyundai might be mitigating some of the reputation risk as well as not adding the extra strain to its own Alabama plant. And if the Apple technology really is as industry-transforming as they’ve been claiming all along—lining up with the “iPhone of cars” hype—then it could help Hyundai-Kia go fully electric via some skateboard-like platforms.
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