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The long-rumored "Apple Car" could be produced in the United States by Kia, a report claims, with Hyundai said to be assigning manufacturing duties to its subsidiary.
Reports in early 2021 hinted that Apple and Hyundai were in talks to produce the "Apple Car," the first commercial self-driving vehicle in the United States. In a new report, the talks have apparently progressed to a point where it may not be Hyundai itself making the vehicle but another brand it owns.
According to South Korea's eDaily outlet, the discussions with Hyundai Motor Group have evolved to the point where it has internally arranged for Kia Motors to be in charge of the project. If Kia agrees to take control of the production side, this could lead to it using its factory in Georgia.
First spotted by iMore, the report claims the choice of using the Georgia facility will help Kia and Apple cooperate on the project.
The decision to offload the Apple Car to Kia instead of producing it under Hyundai is seemingly brand-reputation based. There are reportedly concerns that the Apple Car would basically turn whatever manufacturing partner it chooses into just an assembler instead of an established brand in its own right.
An industry source of the report suggests Hyundai's brand power is "strong," and that it would weaken the brand if it made Apple-branded vehicles instead of its own. By handing duties over to Kia, this wouldn't dilute the Hyundai brand.
The discussions are still supposedly ongoing, with Hyundai reportedly stating "It has not been decided at this early stage."
Reporting from eDaily has been questionable regarding Apple's product plans in the past. However, it has a good reputation for providing reliable information from within the South Korean automotive supply chain.
Initial reports about the tie-up mentioned the Georgia factory, though also the possibility of creating a new factory within the United States. Production was suggested to involve the creation of around 100,000 vehicles in 2024, but with the facility potentially having a capacity to produce 400,000 vehicles per year.
An Apple-created vehicle could surface quite a bit earlier, with supposed plans to release a "beta version" of the car in 2022.