Hyundai Still Contemplating Deal With Apple for Autonomous Electric Cars


Executives in Hyundai Motor are divided over a possible tie-up with Apple, with some elevating issues about changing into a contract producer for the US tech large, dimming the outlook for a deal.

Hyundai mentioned earlier this month it was in preliminary talks with Apple, however gave no particulars. Native media mentioned the companies had been discussing an electrical automotive and battery tie-up.

Hyundai declined to remark for this story. Apple declined to remark.

Apple has by no means acknowledged talks with the automaker about constructing automobiles, and it was unclear whether or not any such talks are nonetheless lively. The iPhone maker usually insists on strict secrecy from its potential companions and suppliers about future plans or unreleased merchandise.

In an earnings name on Tuesday through which it reported its finest quarterly revenue in over three years, Hyundai didn’t give any updates on talks with Apple or point out whether or not they stay lively.

“We’re agonising over how you can do it, whether or not it’s good to do it or not,” mentioned a Hyundai govt conscious of the interior discussions on the tie-up with Apple. “We aren’t an organization which manufactures vehicles for others. It isn’t like working with Apple would all the time produce nice outcomes.”

Few particulars are identified in regards to the talks between the 2 corporations. However individuals near the discussions say the choices thought-about included Hyundai or Kia appearing as a producer for automobiles designed by Apple and bought underneath its highly effective, ubiquitous model.

Hyundai is historically identified for its reluctance to work with outsiders, making engines, transmissions and even its personal metal in-house underneath its vertically built-in provide chain as South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate. Though shares in Kia and Hyundai have surged due to the talks, there’s appreciable opposition to changing into an Apple contract producer, which might maintain up any cope with the American large, these individuals mentioned.

Apple and Hyundai first began talks over a automotive partnership in 2018, when Apple’s effort, generally known as Mission Titan, was headed by Alexander Hitzinger, who’s now a Volkswagen govt, mentioned an individual aware of the matter. However progress was hampered by the South Korean automaker’s reluctance to work with outsiders, the particular person mentioned.

These talks haven’t been beforehand reported.

“It’s actually tough (for Hyundai) to open up,” this particular person mentioned, including that the South Korean firm would more likely to have to interchange some executives to keep away from a tradition conflict underneath any partnership with Apple.

“Apple is the boss. They do their advertising, they do their merchandise, they do their model. Hyundai can be the boss. That doesn’t actually work,” the particular person mentioned.

The South Korean automotive producer, nevertheless, has extra capability. Contract manufacturing would assist it safe manufacturing quantity.

Not like foxconn

One other particular person aware of the matter mentioned Apple would like to supply main elements of its personal design – frames, our bodies, drive trains, and different components – from quite a lot of locations and depend on Hyundai or Kia for a last meeting web site.

“They’d need this to be in the USA,” the second particular person mentioned.

Whereas the talks are at an early stage, Hyundai Motor Group has “tentatively determined” that it will need Kia to accomplice with Apple, not Hyundai Motor, a Hyundai insider mentioned.

“The Group is anxious that the Hyundai model would turn into simply Apple’s contract producer, which might not assist Hyundai in its effort to construct a extra premium picture with its Genesis model,” the insider mentioned. Kia can be transferring quicker when it comes to electrical vehicles, and it has accessible manufacturing capability at its Georgia manufacturing facility in the USA.

One other govt at Hyundai mentioned: “Tech companies like Google and Apple need us to be like (contract cellphone maker) Foxconn.

“A cooperation could initially assist increase the model picture of Hyundai or Kia. However within the mid- or longer-term, we’ll simply present shells for the vehicles, and Apple would do the brains.”

Nonetheless, there are broad areas the place the 2 corporations may benefit, together with entry to Hyundai’s electrical automotive platform and its suppliers, resembling battery makers, in addition to entry to Apple’s autonomous automobile stack and software program, mentioned Park Chul-wan, a South Korean battery knowledgeable and a professor at Seojeong College.

“Hyundai can be greater than only a Foxconn,” he mentioned.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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