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Apple may have searched for partners for its Apple Car in 2020, a report suggests, with one Japanese part supplier allegedly shown schematics for an electric vehicle.
The long-rumored Apple Car is thought to still be in active development at Apple, with the company famously making inquiries into its production in 2021, according to various reports. However, it is now claimed that part of that task may have taken place two years ago, with the pandemic affecting one producer's ability to help Apple out.
Japanese auto supplier Sanden's Texas office allegedly received a visit from a man claiming to be a parts manager for Apple in January 2020, according to Nikkei Asia. The man, described as wearing a suit, apparently asked for Sanden's help in relation to high-performance components in a vehicle.
The parts manager then went on to "slowly and deliberately" present schematics of an electric vehicle and air conditioner parts. The two companies then supposedly entered discussions about part requirements.
While things looked promising, the global COVID-19 pandemic hit Sanden hard, with the company entering debt resolutions in June 2020, effectively killing off its chance of working with Apple.
Developing a car from scratch is a tough prospect, but one that Apple has been keen to seize. Its well-documented exploration of the automotive industry has involved the company entering talks with various suppliers, and even other major manufacturers, as Apple attempts to get the project into production.
One well-known instance of this was the talks with Hyundai, which ended prematurely due to the carmaker failing to keep the discussions a secret.
Apple has since considered the prospect of making the vehicles itself, though it is also still rumored to be trying to secure a strategic partnership to make its life easier.
Analysts believe an Apple Car launch could occur by 2025.