More details have emerged about Apple and Hyundai’s reported partnership to build an autonomous electric car. A Sunday article published by Korea IT News, via Reuters, claims the two companies will sign a deal by March. They will then start production around 2024 in the United States — with a trial before then.
Hyundai last week said that it had been in conversations with Apple. The reports send Hyundai shares skyrocketing by close to 20%.
The report claimed that the cars will either by built at the Kia Motors factory in Georgia or in a new factory in the U.S. The full annual capacity of this proposed plant would be in the region of 400,000 vehicles. The report said the 2024 production would call for 100,000 vehicles.
It also said that they will make a “beta version” of these vehicles next year. The details were later removed from the article.
Building an Apple Car
Apple has reportedly been working on an Apple Car project since at least 2014. During that time, the scope and size of the project has waxed and waned multiple times. It’s not clear whether Apple is looking to just develop the software or a more vertically integrated approach like it does with, well, virtually everything else that it makes. The Hyundai report suggests that it could be more like a collaboration with another company.
This wouldn’t be without precedent for Apple. In 2013, it partnered with Volkswagen to create the iBeetle. The car, created by VW, boasted Apple-inspired colors, an iPhone docking station and a CarPlay-like app.
It’s certainly an intriguing story, not least because developing the kind of AI software required to build a compelling autonomous driving vehicle isn’t something immediately associated with Apple. Apple has recruited some impressive names when it comes to AI. Nonetheless, for much of the past couple of decades Apple has lagged behind on AI research. It will therefore be interesting to see what Apple would bring from a wholly software perspective. Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to self-driving cars as “the mother of all AI projects” in 2017.
I expect that we’ll see many more twists and turns in the Apple Car saga before anything is launched. (Still, as noted last week, the comparative size of the automotive market means that Apple would only have to carve out a tiny fraction of buyers to equal the size of its current iPhone business.)
What are your expectations when it comes to Apple Car? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.