Kia Leading Development of the Apple Car, Report Claims
Apple’s long-awaited car is finally coming into focus. In early 2021, we reported that the tech giant had linked guns to Hyundai to get into the auto industry, and a recent unverified report suggests that Kia was blamed for the project. The South Korean firm made a vague statement that neither confirms nor denies the rumors.
Sources allegedly familiar with the automaker’s plans told local Edaily news agency that Hyundai had awarded the Apple car project to sister company Kia. The report sent the company’s shares on a 20% increase on the Seoul Stock Exchange.
Executives quickly made it clear that, according to Reuters, Kia is only considering developing self-drive and electrical engineering with several foreign companies. This is apparently another way of saying that it is open to partnering with new partners without revealing whether Apple’s rumors are true or not false. Cupertino’s on-and-off iCar has been a secret for years, so the puzzling response is hardly surprising.
If the rumors are wrong, we face yet another dead end in the Apple auto saga. If they are true, blaming Kia for the project makes perfect sense as the brand pioneered the modern electric car when it released the first generation Soul EV in 2014. The range also includes an electric crossover called Niro.
Looking ahead, Kia, which launched a new logo this month, plans to launch no fewer than seven electric cars by 2027, including a standalone model expected to hit the market in 2021. Most will be built on a highly modular platform that will also serve as the foundation for several Hyundai models, such as the 2019 production version of the 45 Concept. While nothing is official yet, it’s not too far-fetched to speculate that Apple’s car could also be built on these bones.
Developing a car is much more difficult and labor-intensive than developing a phone. The platform is an extremely important and correspondingly expensive piece of the puzzle that directly affects how the model is handled and the type of technology that can be packaged into it, among other things. It is also a system that the average motorist never sees. Most people who buy a Volkswagen Atlas do not know that the SUV is built on the MQB platform, for example. Mini owners don’t stay awake at night and think of the BMWs with which their car has a common architecture.
With that in mind, creating a platform just for Apple would be a colossal waste of money. Building the iCar on a state-of-the-art Hyundai-Kia platform specifically designed for the type of use Apple intended (to underpin an electric and highly automated car) makes sense and would allow both sides to take advantage of the benefits of Economies of scale. Of course, this assumes that Kia is actually developing an Apple car that will hit the market soon.