Hyundai execs wary of Apple electric car partnership: Report

  • Some execs at Hyundai are wary of partnering with Apple to make electric vehicles, Reuters reported.
  • Hyundai confirmed in early January it was in “early-stage” talks with Apple about an electric car.
  •  “We are not a company which manufactures cars for others,” one exec reportedly said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Executives at South-Korean car giant Hyundai are split over whether the company should partner with Apple to make an electric vehicle, according to a Reuters report.

Hyundai acknowledged in early January that it was in “early-stage” discussions about making an electric car with Apple. But some execs are wary of becoming a contract manufacturer for the US tech giant, one executive familiar with internal discussions told Reuters.

“We are not a company which manufactures cars for others,” they said. “It is not like working with Apple would always produce great results.”

Apple uses contract manufacturers for other products: Foxconn, a Taiwanese company, makes its iPhones, for example.

South Korean media reported on January 10 that Hyundai and Apple planned to sign a deal by March 2021, make a “beta” version of an Apple electric vehicle in 2022, and potentially start full-scale production in 2024.

Apple has never acknowledged discussions with Hyundai, and declined to comment to Reuters on the latest report. 

Hyundai, which has extra production capacity, did not give an update on talks with Apple during a Tuesday earnings call, in which it reported its best quarterly profit in three years. Insider has asked Hyundai for comment.

People close to the discussions told Reuters if a deal were agreed, either Hyundai or Kia – owned by Hyundai Motor Co Group – would make the electric cars, which would be designed, sold, and branded by Apple.

Kia, not Hyundai, may end up building the cars

Another Hyundai exec told Reuters that “tech firms like Google and Apple want us to be like (contract phone maker) Foxconn.

“A cooperation may initially help raise the brand image of Hyundai or Kia. But in the mid- or longer-term, we will just provide shells for the cars, and Apple would do the brains.”

Hyundai Motor Co Group has “tentatively decided” it would want Kia, not Hyundai, to partner with Apple if a deal goes ahead, one Hyundai insider told Reuters.

It said: “The Group is concerned that the Hyundai brand would become just Apple’s contract manufacturer, which would not help Hyundai in its effort to build a more premium image with its Genesis brand.”

The Genesis brand, which includes the recently released Genesis G90 sedan, comprises Hyundai’s most luxury cars. 

Kia has extra manufacturing capacity at its factory in Georgia, in the US, the person said.

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