Korean Automakers Say Apple Deal Isn't Happening

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Over the weekend, Hyundai Motor Group addressed rumors that Kia had been in negotiations to build an electric vehicle for Apple. While the scuttlebutt seems to have been true, talks were indeed underway, the automaker confessed that they had ended without an agreement.

It’s known that Apple has been hunting for potential partners after its EV program was placed into an extended stasis and was hoping to gain access to a skateboard-type platform. Hyundai’s E-GMP architecture certainly qualifies, too. But it’s just one of many entities entering the field as most manufacturers strive to build their own.

According to Bloomberg, Hyundai/Kia briefly confirmed that it had been in sustained discussions with Apple but ultimately withdrew for reasons unknown. Some have stipulated that the American tech firm might have wanted to go with a domestic manufacturer for security reasons. But, considering that the company is already highly dependent upon Asian factories, it hardly seems like the deciding factor — especially when Hyundai is making it sound as though it was the one that broke things off.

Regardless, it wasn’t great for either brands’ share price. Both saw spikes in valuation as the Apple rumor spread and sharp drops when it was explained that there would be no deal. On Monday, Hyundai Motor shares fell by over 6 percent in South Korea. Kia Motors shares dropped by bout 15 percent.

Apple reportedly remains committed to reinvigorating its electric vehicle program, however. Insiders have tipped off numerous outlets that the company is hoping to have the first “Apple Cars” produced by 2024.

In December, Reuters claimed to have sources suggesting the first examples would appear in 2024. But Taiwanese outlets were reporting that key Asian suppliers had already been mobilized to accelerate production on components that would be necessary for an upcoming EV. While suppliers were supposed to have signed rock-solid confidentiality agreements, the United Daily News named several participating Taiwanese automotive factories in the final week of 2020.

But the iCar concept has been nixed before and reinvigorating the codenamed Project Titan in 2019 doesn’t mean it will survive all the way to 2024. If we could count on every rumor and corporate promise being true, numerous companies operating from both outside and within the auto industry would have been selling totally self-driving conveyances for a couple of years.

[Image: Hyundai]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • JMII JMII on Feb 09, 2021

    Loose lips sink ships. If someone at H/K leaked info regarding Apple as reported last week they might have gotten a phone call with an offer they can't refuse. As mentioned Apple is notorious about dealing with its suppliers and keeping its future (and even current) plans under wraps.

    • Rocket Rocket on Feb 09, 2021

      That's certainly one potential explanation ... confidential negotiations that were anything but. Apple takes that stuff seriously - even if they did get a short-term stock boost from the leaks. Then H/K claims they called the deal off to save face. I mean, you have to be pretty ballsy to say "no" to Apple, right? WE turned down APPLE!!! Then again, maybe H/K just doesn't want to go back to working for another company. Private labeling always has a potential downside.

  • 1sowa 1sowa on Feb 09, 2021

    Or they did come to the agreement and the first rule of apple club is you don't talk about apple club.

  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.
  • Alan In aviation there is more vigourous testing, well, until Boeing changed things.
  • Alan This outcome was certain.The US, Australia and Canada need to approach this differently. A policy towards plug in hybrids should of been a first step. As in CAFE gradually tighten FE from there.There's no reason why you can't have a 2 litre F-150 with electric motors putting out 400-500hp. A 2 litre turbo is good for 200hp more than enough to move a pickup.Also increase fuel tax/excise every year to fill the void in loss of revenue.
  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?