Apple Car Latest: Kia Talks With Potential Partners About Vehicle Assembly in Georgia, While Apple Seeks Supply Deals With Japanese Automakers

Apple Car rumors continued to surface on Friday, with reports that Hyundai Group affiliate Kia has approached potential partners about a plan to assemble Apple's autonomous electric vehicle at its West Point plant in the U.S. state of Georgia (via The Wall Street Journal).

Apple car wheel icon feature purple

Kia Corp. has approached potential partners about a plan to assemble Apple Inc.'s long-awaited electric car in Georgia, according to people familiar with the matter. The proposal would involve a multibillion-dollar investment, according to people familiar with the matter, who stress that a deal hasn’t been completed.

Hyundai has talked to Apple about investing more than $3 billion in a deal that would see its subsidiary Kia begin building cars under the tech company’s brand as soon as 2024, a person familiar with the matter said. Under such an agreement, up to 100,000 vehicles could be assembled in the first year in Georgia, where Kia has a factory, the person said.

Meanwhile, in Asia, Nikkei reports that Apple is in discussions with at least six Japanese automakers over supply partnerships and manufacturing contributions (via Bloomberg). Honda and Mazda said they couldn't comment on rumors that they had been approached by Apple, while Mitsubishi said it had not been contacted and Nissan declined to comment.

According to Tatsuo Yoshida, a senior Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, Japanese automakers are usually too busy with their own development, manufacturing, sales and customer service to take on a task like working with Apple. However, Nissan or Mitsubishi "don’t have much work, and are somewhat idle, so they might sign up," he said.

‌Apple Car‌ rumors have swirled for weeks now, with Apple said to be aiming to have a vehicle‌ in production in 2024, though it's possible that timeline will be delayed as work on the ‌‌Apple Car‌‌ is still in the early stages. Bloomberg recently said it would be five to seven years before an ‌‌Apple Car‌‌ is ready to launch, while Apple analyst Ming-Chu Kuo said this week that he expects to see the ‌‌Apple Car‌‌ in 2025 at the earliest.

Earlier this week it was reported that the first ‌Apple Car‌ to be released will not be designed to operate with a driver and could be marketed for food delivery operations and firms that incorporate robotaxis.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tag: Kia

Top Rated Comments

Robert.Walter Avatar
14 weeks ago
Mitsubishi?

The same Mitsubishi that committed fraud on safety recalls back in the early 2000’s such that the Japanese government stopped buying its vehicles, it’s top management resigned, one committed ritual suicide, and Daimler had to renegotiate its acquisition price of Mitsubishi severely downward? Same Mitsubishi that Daimler eventually gave away to the Mitsubishi Keiretsu to be recapitalized in late 2000’s? Same Mitsubishi that committed engine certification fraud while building contract cars for Nissan that the damages settlement ended up with Nissan owning Mitsubishi about 5 years ago? Same Mitsubishi that because of failing sales decided to abandon major global markets last year?

If Apple’s going to go with Mitsubishi, it better plan to cope with a company with a culture of cheating on safety, quality and hiding things.

Nissan? Same Nissan that was nearly bankrupt in the late 1990’s that only one car company took a chance to save them (it was Renault by buying 45% ownership for an effective 100% control). Same Nissan that after being nursed back to health and returned to greatness by Renault ungratefully embroiled itself in an unethical attempt to prevent a full merger by arranging for the arrest of the Renault Nissan CEO to derail said merger?

If Apple is looking for a partner in Nissan it better be prepared to deal with a management culture that is unethical and bites the hand that saves it and is prepared to wage strategic chicanery.

Mazda? Perhaps the best of the three Japanese companies named here. After being spun out of Ford Motor a decade ago, Mazda has managed to survive (its a stretch to save thrive) on brains, grit and a can-do spirit.

If Apple looks to Mazda, it may have to contend with a small manufacturer that may get weaker as the market shifts to electric drive. I believe Mazda has tech agreements with Toyota so that should help such a transition but Apple should be prepared to deal with a Mazda in the Toyota orbit with primary loyalties to Toyota.

Also as far as joint work with Japanese companies goes, Apple should be prepared to deal with a greater language barrier than in Europe , China or Korea (in my time in Japan I was surprised that a company so dependent on international trade had comparatively so few proficient English speakers.)

I think Kia is an interesting choice. Owned by Hyundai, from the mid 2000’s, it’s gone from being really sub-par on quality (one reason it was taken over by Hyundai amid falling sales) to a quality and satisfaction leader nowadays.

I’ve no direct experience with them so I can’t say what Apple might need to prepare for but Kia seems to have a culture that can change and improve in the same time as Mitsubishi and Nissan commit serial frauds and chicanery respectively against (as applicable) their partners, owners and regulators.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ian87w Avatar
14 weeks ago

As long as we don't have to charge it via Lightning cable...
... with the port under the car. ;)
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
benediktleb Avatar
14 weeks ago
The "revolutionary" part would most likely be the autonomous driving tech.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ramchi Avatar
14 weeks ago
Just day before yesterday booked a Kia SUV!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
luvbug Avatar
14 weeks ago
The worst part about all this is that we'll be hearing about it for 5 or 6 freaking years!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleShareholder Avatar
14 weeks ago

You automatically show me that I can discount your opinion when you mention me paying 6 figures for an Apple Car assembled by Kia... it shows that you don’t have the vaguest idea what the product is!
Even some of the least savvy readers have surmised that this is NOT a consumer product.
Apple is almost certainly going to sell Car as a service, not something you own.
ZERO tales of “getting a bad one”.
Nobody messing one up with aftermarket parts, because Apple is the only one servicing them, etc.
The idea is actually quite genius!!

As far as the rest of your post- utter garbage.
3 years + $3 billion should be plenty to allay your bizarre fear that the only thing a Kia assembly line could produce is a Kia clone.
You're funny if you think Kia is taking on just a simple assembly manufacturing role. If that was all that it was, then wouldn't Apple go with lower-cost Chinese assemblers, you know, like the ones assembling Nio, XPENG, and Geely vehicles?
Moreover, our favorite Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo even said the E-GMP platform will be used, so I'm not sure where you're getting that Apple will be designing everything from scratch, unless you think they're going to sell a Model 3-specced car at $5 million at a huge risk that the new manufacturing process may not even ramp-up successfully.

I'll repeat - Anytime you make a brand new design that's non-derivative from what the manufacturer has, an entirely new manufacturing process has to be made. Apple can make very, very slight modifications to the manufacturing process to call it "custom-designed", but the underlying technology comes from the manufacturer.
With a new manufacturing process, you run the huge risk of low yields and poor ramp-up times. Apple is not going to risk that. They will take what the manufacturer already designed and do very slight and minor changes to call it "Apple-designed" or whatever. That way, they can pretend they designed everything and they don't run into yield problems.

In high-level manufacturing (Not assembly manufacturing), with the exception of Tesla (Because Elon is a crazy genius, and Tesla is their own manufacturer), literally no one goes to a manufacturer and tells them to build a new manufacturing process for a completely new custom part or product. NO ONE. That is not how the business world runs. In fact, Tesla tried doing this before they started manufacturing things themselves, and all the suppliers told them to take a hike. Their current processes couldn't accommodate Tesla's design requests, and they would have to come up with an entirely new process for all of Tesla's demands.

In any high-level or advanced product development, the manufacturer is responsible for product development and creating a reference design, and any "custom designs" from customers like Apple are derivatives of the this reference design so that much of the manufacturing process can be maintained and ramp-up and yield risks are reduced (Ex. Model Y shares most of its parts and has very similar manufacturing processes as Model 3. Only differences are the potential structural 4680 battery packs and new aluminum die-cast for the rear body). Why do you think Apple and Samsung phones have very similar quality panels despite Apple claiming they "custom designed" their displays? It's because the underlying technology of the panels are the same (Same Samsung diamond-pentile with Y-OCTA tech, etc.).

So why is high-level manufacturing more stringent with design rules than low-level assembly manufacturing? Because the former relies more on precise mechanical movements while the other relies on humans putting parts together. The manufacturing process in high-level manufacturing has to be engineered so that the machines coordinate well together, but any changes to the process can screw up yields.
With low-level assembly manufacturing, a person can just stuff a component in the right socket. Doesn't have to be exact on the first try.

I don't really care if you want to pay $150k for a Hyundai or Kia. Go for it. There's nothing wrong with them. They make very high quality cars and are underappreciated by people who love branding.
I'd rather buy a Model S Plaid. At least I know I'm paying $150k for unique technology actually created by Tesla and not by some 3rd party.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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