Negotiations for Hyundai to become contract manufacturer for the rumored "Apple Car" EV are getting more specific—and pointing specifically to one of its brands and its U.S. assembly plant.
Apple and Hyundai have reportedly been in talks about a joint effort to develop self-driving electric cars for some time, but South Korean news website DongA.com is now reporting that Apple's electric car will be manufactured at Hyundai subsidiary Kia's factory in West Point, Georgia.
The report also said Apple will invest $3.6 billion in Kia, and that the deal with parent company Hyundai would be signed February 17, but didn't cite any sources, Reuters noted.
Apple is targeting annual production of 100,000 cars from the Kia factory initially, with output increasing to 400,000 units per year at a later date, according to the report.
Rumors of an Apple Car—also known as "Project Titan" were reignited in December 2020 with a report that Apple would rely on an evolution of the lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) pioneered for volume automotive production by China's BYD, and now used in Chinese-market Tesla Model 3 sedans. That would dramatically lower costs, the report said.
Hyundai Motor Group E-GMP platform
Previous reports on Project Titan tended to mark autonomous-driving tech as the car's distinguishing feature, so the battery rumors are an abrupt shift. Regardless of what Apple is planning design-wise, the car is expected to be built by a contract manufacturer—just as Apple does with its iPhones.
This latest report indicates Hyundai is more than just a final contender for the contract-manufacturing role, but Reuters reported last week that Hyundai executives may be having second thoughts. They're concerned about possible damage to the automaker's reputation if it's viewed like Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that manufactures iPhones for Apple (and is now also dabbling in EVs).
Hyundai recently unveiled an impressive modular platform for EVs across all of its brands. Dubbed E-GMP, it features 800-volt architecture, and is capable of bi-directional charging and handling autonomous-driving tech, the automaker has said.
Battery maker SK Innovation is also building a battery factory in Commerce, Georgia, about 150 miles from Kia's factory. The factory will supply batteries for Volkswagen electric cars, and possibly the Ford F-150 Electric pickup truck as well.
Kia is also expected to unveil a dedicated electric vehicle to arrive later this year, with a 300-mile range, 20-minute fast-charging, and a crossover body style. That one is not expected to be U.S.-built, however.