Hyundai, Kia Deny Talks With Apple For Self-Driving Cars

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Shares in South Korean car makers plunged on Monday after they denied reports of holding talks to develop long rumoured Apple car

Apple’s questionable venture into the automotive market is once again the spotlight after South Korean car makers denied having talks with the iPhone maker.

Hyundai and Kia said they were not in talks with Apple to develop self-driving cars, despite media speculation. Kia Motors is part of the Hyundai Motor Group.

“We are not having talks with Apple about developing self-driving cars,” Hyundai was quoted by CNN as saying in a statement.

CES 2015
Hyundai showcased new car technologies

No talks

The statement added that Hyundai has received requests from “numerous companies” about developing self-driving electric cars, but that “no decision has been made as we are in the beginning stage.”

Apple reportedly declined to comment on the matter, as is usual for the iPhone maker.

But the confirmation was bad news for shares in the South Korean car makers, with Kia’s stock plummeted nearly 15 percent, its worst day since at least 2001, according to data provider Eikon Refinitiv.

Indeed, that fall reportedly wiped $5.4 billion off its market value.

Hyundai’s stock meanwhile fell 6.2 percent, which meant a $2.8 billion loss in market value.

Project Titan

Ever since 2015, Apple had been rumoured to be releasing an electric car sometime in 2019, with its so called Project Titan.

Rumours were strengthened in July 2015 when CEO Tim Cook was in spotted in Leipzig, Germany in July, amid reports that Apple was to agree a partnership with BMW.

Apple was reportedly at the time going to use the BMW i3 vehicle as the basis for its long rumoured ‘Apple Car’.

Any partnership with a car maker would have solved the manufacturing issue, as Apple doesn’t actually make its own devices.

Most of its iPhones for example are made by a third party (Foxconn etc).

Car makers on the other hand have their own purpose-built factories and build their own products, and a car maker tie up would have solved Apple’s lack of experience in building actual vehicles.

Scaled back

But hopes of an Apple move into producing its own range of self-driving cars were dented in February 2019, when the firm reportedly laid off 190 staff from eight different Santa Clara County facilities near its Cupertino headquarters.

An Apple spokesman at the time reportedly confirmed that the staff reduction was from Apple self-driving car program.

Before those layoffs, there were thought to be 1,200 Apple staff working on Project Titan.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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