Last week, we heard reports that Apple and Kia were close to finalizing a deal to build the long-mooted and purportedly upcoming Apple Car — which reports suggested would be a self-driving electric vehicle, likely running on Hyundai's E-GMP platform and due to launch in 2024.
Well, it's a new week, and with it comes a change in the winds for the Apple Car rumors. We now know that the version being rumored for the last month will not be happening, at least for the moment. On Monday, Hyundai informed investors that the company "is not having talks with Apple on developing autonomous vehicles."
We don't know how close things between Apple and Hyundai were — and, thus what, if anything, has changed. A Hyundai exec told Reuters that the Hyundai side was not happy with being framed as a supplier instead of a strategic partner for the Apple-branded car. Apple, in turn, did not appear to be pleased with the talks' leaked details, as Hyundai amended a previous statement confirming the talks to exclude its name.
So what does this mean for the Apple Car's future? Well, the talks could just be on hiatus. Apple Insider cited a noted Apple analyst last week who confirmed the Hyundai report, but suggested 2025 for the car's debut — and even that timeline being optimistic. Said Apple analyst also noted that the car would be "very-high end," would cost significantly more than a standard EV and would be a proof of concept that could lead to further discussions with GM or the group now known as Stellantis.
That 2025-or-later timeline would be more in line with the current automotive consensus (outside of Tesla), which views full autonomous driving as years, if not decades away, thanks to the myriad technological and regulatory challenges. And considering Apple isn't a vehicle manufacturer at present, getting any car on the road by 2024 would be incredibly ambitious, let alone one that can drive itself.
Now, we'd be remiss if we didn't point something out: Hyundai's statement noted that they weren't holding talks about developing autonomous vehicles. Technically speaking, that comment would not preclude a human-driven Apple-branded electric car being made by Hyundai — one that could be a precursor to a fully autonomous vehicle.
The biggest question regarding whether the Apple Car happens may be how mission-critical Apple consider building a car as part of its future. Apple has more than enough cash in the bank to buy Ford outright, so even investing a few billion with a major automaker could be considered a lark by their standards.