New Report Suggests Hyundai’s Big Mouth Did Not Kill Potential Partnership With Apple—Yet

Choice colour Hyundai mockup cars are diplayed during the press days of the Paris Motor Show on September 28, 2012 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris.
Choice colour Hyundai mockup cars are diplayed during the press days of the Paris Motor Show on September 28, 2012 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris.
Photo: Joel Saget/AFP (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, we theorized that Hyundai’s big mouth could get it kicked out of the running of working on a self-driving car with Apple, given that the latter deplores leaks. Days later, though, it appears the Korean automaker has not burned all bridges—yet.

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Reuters, which cites a report from local media outlet Korea IT News, on Sunday stated that Hyundai and Apple plan to sign a partnership deal on autonomous electric cars by March. The report affirms that the companies either plan to build the cars at a Kia Motors factory in Georgia—which is a Hyundai affiliate—or invest jointly in a new U.S. factory. It also claims that the effort would aim to produce 100,000 cars by roughly 2024. In the future, though, the plant would be able to produce 400,000 cars at full annual capacity.

A “beta version” of the Apple car by Hyundai and Apple would supposedly be released next year, the report stated.

Nonetheless, per Reuters, an update to the Korea IT News report later removed a whole lot of details, including the production location, capacity, timeframe for signing the deal, and purported launch of the pilot cars.

This sure does look familiar.

As noted by the outlet, the report comes days after Hyundai another rumor that held that Apple purportedly approached Hyundai about producing an electric car as well as rechargeable batteries, a proposal the carmaker indicated it was reviewing.

Nonetheless, Hyundai then freaked out—and rightly so, given Apple’s obsession with secrecy—and issued a new statement saying that multiple global automakers, including Hyundai, were in early talks with Apple about a possible partnership. Hyundai then thought about it again and decided to issue yet another statement erasing all mentions of Apple.

Apple has been rumored to have 2024 as a potential goal date to enter the self-driving car business. The company initially began working on self-driving car technology—dubbed Project Titan—backed in 2014. Over the years, some rumors have stated that Apple was only working on hardware for cars, while others later said that it was only working on software. Recently, new reports have stated that Apple actually has a small team working on drive systems, vehicle interiors, and external car designs.

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It’s all still in the rumor mill for now, folks. Considering we’ve been talking about an Apple car for years and still haven’t gotten anything close to it, it’s important to take these new Hyundai rumors with a grain of salt.

Hyundai told Gizmodo that it had no comment. Gizmodo has reached out to Apple to ask about the report but we haven’t heard back. We’ll make sure to update this blog if we do.

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If this turns out to be true, though, there is one more thing we can be sure we do know about this whole tale: Apparently, some people just don’t know how to keep good news to themselves. Looking at you all, Hyundai.

[Reuters]

Update 1/11/2021, 6:08 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional comment from Hyundai.

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DISCUSSION

It doesn’t seem like it should take four years just to slap Apple aesthetics and an Apple-designed user interface on top of a Hyundai electric car, only to then only produce 100,000 of them a year.