Hyundai and Kia May Still Be Contenders in the Apple Car Game (With an Interesting Twist)

Imagine by Kia concept car Credit: Kia
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Back in early January, Hyundai made a pretty big splash when it revealed that it was in talks with Apple about the possibility of building the Apple Car, and while it was clearly forced to walk that little slip-up back after Apple was none too pleased with the disclosure, multiple reports began corroborating the fact that the two companies had indeed been in discussions for at least a couple of years.

While the talks ultimately seemed to have gone nowhere, during the process it seemed that Hyundai was struggling with whether to risk its brand identity in a partnership with the Apple juggernaut, but in the midst of this one possible solution had come to light: tagging its Kia Motors subsidiary to take point on the project in order to keep the Apple Car at arms’ length from Hyundai’s more premium Genesis brand.

While that didn’t seem to be enough to keep the talks going, some analysts had suggested that Hyundai and Kia weren’t completely out of the game just yet; Apple still needs an experienced partner to produce the Apple Car, so many believed the discussions would resume, particularly since Apple already had gained much more traction with Hyundai than it reportedly got with other carmakers like Nissan.

‘Not Completely Cancelled’

Although Hyundai and Kia made it clear in regulatory filings last month that neither automaker was currently in talks with Apple about developing autonomous vehicles, the qualifiers on that statement left the possibility open that the companies could return to the table at some point, and in fact it looks like they may be pursuing multiple angles for different partnership possibilities — including, of all things, an electric scooter.

According to Reuters, Apple and Kia had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last year to cooperate across eight different sectors, of which electric vehicles were only one area, although according to South Korean news site Chosun Biz, negotiations on electrical vehicles have “not been completely cancelled.”

The media report on Kia-Apple cooperation does not negate Hyundai’s statement earlier this month, since the statement was limited to a certain item.

Kevin Yoo, analyst, eBEST Investment & Securities

However, even if the electric vehicle manufacturing partnership was to fail completely, there are still other areas in which Apple and Hyundai would likely cooperate. For instance, there have been other reports from reliable analysts revealing that Apple is strongly considering using Hyundai’s E-GMP platform as the foundation for the Apple Car, and there’s no reason to believe that adopting Hyundai’s chassis is directly tied to whether the South Korean automaker actually builds the final vehicle.

An Electric Scooter?

Another area in which the two companies are said to be in talks is for “last-mile” mobility solutions — methods that would help transport users a short distance from their vehicle to a final destination. While the Reuters report doesn’t specify exactly what this means, it’s most likely a reference to the electric scooter technology that Hyundai announced back in 2019.

While electric scooters are commonplace, Hyundai’s approach is to build one that docks directly into an electric vehicle so that it’s always charged and ready to go, allowing drivers to park their car at a more convenient or inexpensive location and ride the final distance to their destination, and it definitely seems like something that would make an interesting addition to the Apple Car.

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