The Korean website DongA Ilbo reports that Apple may be planning to invest four trillion won, or about USD $3.6 billion, in Kia Motors to develop the Apple Car.
The investment would be part of a planned partnership between Apple and Hyundai, Kia’s parent company.
DongA Ilbo adds that this partnership is expected to result in the production of Apple Cars at Kia’s facility in the U.S. state of Georgia.
Apple expects its car to be a self-driving vehicle that users can operate with little additional engagement other than inputting their destination. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the Apple Car has the potential to become a leading product for the company.
Apple has been working on autonomous driving software at least since 2017, when CEO Tim Cook discussed the company’s progress in this field.
Cook described it as a core technology that was one of the most difficult AI projects to work on. Apple uses 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs for its testing, which witnesses have seen on public streets in Cupertino, California.
Kuo predicts that Apple will be able to integrate hardware and software more effectively than other automotive manufacturers, including the chips that Apple has designed for use in the Apple Car.
Kuo predicts the Apple Car’s chassis will be based on Hyundai’s E-GMP platform, which the carmaker currently uses for its battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
An analyst from EETimes speculates that this chip might be based on the A12 Bionic processor that Apple introduced in 2018.
This analyst also expects the chip used in the Apple Car to be designated “C1.”
Rumors of a partnership between Apple and Hyundai have persisted since early January 2021. Korea IT News has previously reported that the Kia factory in Georgia would be the site for a BEV from Apple.
Hyundai initially confirmed the rumors that it was discussing a partnership with Apple, but later revised its statement to eliminate the reference to Apple.
The deal between Apple and Kia could become official as early as February 17, 2021, as Apple is planning on introducing the Apple Car for the 2024 model year.
However, reaching this goal would place Apple on a tight schedule that could require it to push the launch date back.
Inside sources have told Bloomberg that Apple won’t be able to launch an autonomous BEV in less than five years. The initial production goal for the Apple Car is at least 100,000 vehicles per year.