S.Korea’s Kia says looking at electric car projects with multiple firms after Apple report

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean automaker Kia Corp said on Wednesday it’s reviewing cooperation on self-driving electric cars with multiple foreign firms, making no mention of a report linking it to a project with tech giant Apple Inc.

Kia’s comment, issued in a regulatory filing as its shares surged nearly 20% in Seoul, came after domestic online publication Edaily reported late on Tuesday that Kia’s parent, Hyundai Motor Group, had decided Kia would be in charge of proposed cooperation with Apple on electric cars. The report cited unnamed industry sources.

Hyundai Motor declined to comment. Apple was not immediately available for comment outside of U.S. business hours.

Kia’s listed sister company Hyundai Motor Co said earlier this month it was in early talks with Apple, after local media reported the firms were discussing an electric car and battery-tie up, sending Hyundai shares up nearly 25%. Apple declined to comment at the time.

In December, Reuters reported that Apple was moving forward with self-driving car technology and was aiming to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology as early as 2024.

Kia last week changed its corporate brand to simply ‘Kia’ from ‘Kia Motors’ in what it said was part of a new strategy aimed at taking the company “beyond vehicle manufacturing to create sustainable mobility solutions”, without providing specific details of new projects.

“Changing our corporate name and logo is not only a cosmetic improvement,” said Kia President Song Ho-sung. “It represents us expanding our horizons and establishing new and emerging businesses that meet and exceed the diverse needs of our customers worldwide.”

Shares in Kia were up 8.2%, while shares in Hyundai Motor were down 0.6% of 0254 GMT, compared with a 0.3% rise in the wider market.

Reporting by Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kenneth Maxwell

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