By on February 3, 2021

kia logo emblem

While partnering with other industries is essential for the automotive sector, the last few years has shown most nameplates cozying up with the dominant tech firms at a breakneck pace. Just this week, we learned that Ford will be equipping future models with the Android operating system (courtesy of Google) and it wasn’t long before that we were discussing BMW’s arrangement to integrate its business with Amazon Could Services. Even Taiwan’s Foxconn has shown itself willing to get involved with China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group — which owns Volvo Cars, Geely Automotive, Lynk & Co, Proton, Lotus Cars, London Electric Vehicle Company, and more.

Now, rumors are swirling that Apple is about to make a gigantic investment into Kia Motors after Korean outlet Dong-a Ilbo (The East Asia Daily) reported that the duo had plans to manufacturer vehicles at the automaker’s American facility in Georgia. The paper stated that tech giant was readying an estimated 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion USD) investment in exchange for Kia building 100,000 electric vehicles per year. However, the mere suggestion has already made Kia money by boosting its share price by over 15 percent on Tuesday. 

Though both Hyundai and Apple declined to comment on the validity of any partnership rumors, the latter was known to have been considering options to rejuvenate its stalled electric vehicle program. In fact, Bloomberg noted that market speculation had already begun on a prospective Apple tie-up well before the Kia rumor surfaced.

From Bloomberg:

Reports of Apple considering expanding into vehicles have led to speculation on potential manufacturing partners. The technology giant’s car-development work is still at an early stage, and the company will take at least half a decade to launch an autonomous EV, people with knowledge of the efforts have told Bloomberg News. That suggests the company isn’t in a hurry with partnership decisions.

Last month, Hyundai Motor Co., an affiliate of Kia, backed away from a statement that said it was in talks with Apple, revising it to say only it had been contacted by potential partners for the development of autonomous EVs. The news pushed stock in Hyundai up almost 20 [percent] on the day. Kia shares are now at their highest since 1997.

We’re doubtful that the iPhone purveyor is currently in a position to fast track such a large project, even with help from one of the world’s largest automakers. But Dong-a Ilbo suggested there’s a chance that a deal could be signed as early as February 17th with the first Apple Cars going into production in 2024.

[Image: Kia Motors]

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8 Comments on “Apple Rumored to Invest Billions Into Kia Motors...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Seems like this would be less “Apple cars”, and more “Apple tech” in Kia cars.

    Apple probably decided that building whole cars was a fool’s errand, but their AV tech still wanted a host vehicle. So maybe Kia will provide the vehicle and the AV hardware for Apple’s autonomous tech.

    At most, maybe Kia would add the Apple logo on the fender to indicate the feature’s owner, sort of like a “Pininfarina” or “DeTomaso” badge. Not to mention the GUI inside the vehicle.

    But I still want it to work with Android.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve been saying since the get-go of these iCar rumors that its all about Apple’s tech. The idea of an enitre Apple car brand doesn’t make much sense.

      Apple’s claim to fame has been: high profit margins via total supply chain control using style, design and materials with a clean user interface. The auto industry is the opposite of this. Similar to the days of “Intel Inside” I believe the push here will be “Apple Inside”. Think Apple Driver Assistance Tech Package and Apple Battery Optimizer Technology. Maybe even Designed by Apple interiors options.

  • avatar

    “Amazon Could Services”. I guess they could, perhaps the question is will they?

  • avatar

    The idea is that Kia or Huyndai build cars for Apple. It is not like Apple provides features for Kia/Hyundai. Apple is not Google. Apple’s image does not match Kia IMO. Steve Jobs would not cheapen Apple brand that way. If Elon Musk is able to build cars why Apple cannot? Just hire right people.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “If Elon Musk is able to build cars why Apple cannot?”

      Several reasons:

      1. Passion. Tesla has a patent on this. EV pretenders just talk, and recent history shows how much passion it takes to push through the difficulties to reach viability. A couple shots of money and some smart people isn’t enough.

      2. The car market is saturated, like pizza shops in my zip code.

      3. Building EVs is a great way to lose money for many years. Are Apple’s bean counters interested in that?

      4. Resources – Apple can’t get raw materials any better than the rest of the world’s mfrs, and anyone going to work on a mythical Apple car program should think about its long-term prospects. It could actually be hard to fill key positions.

      5. Image – Would building cars elevate Apple’s image? That’s debatable. Cars are a lot more complex than consumer electronics, and complaints and lawsuits follow every car ever made.

  • avatar

    Magic 8-Ball says: “Reply hazy, try again.”

    A couple of perspectives:

    [Some of the comments (on the WSJ page) on the WSJ article are priceless – I mean predictable]

    (Pssst… the secret decoder ring looks a lot like a skateboard.)

    Anyway, tiny little Apple and Kia-Hyundai-Telluride-Genesis-Ioniq can do what they want in 2024, it doesn’t matter, because GM intends to reinvent itself by 2035… or 2040.

    Here’s some background music* while you ponder, inspired by the California of the South:
    *Recorded in a different place and time, 1997 Switzerland (when GM was #1 on the Fortune 500, Apple didn’t crack the top 10, and you could lease an EV1 with lead-acid batteries). [We could talk about who did and did not make ‘phones’ in 1997, but who has the time? We’re all busy making conventional cars in the conventional way.]

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