After initially confirming it was in talks with Apple about developing self-driving cars, the South Korean car manufacturer has since revised its statement.
After initial reports this morning (8 January) from the Korea Economic Daily stated that Hyundai was in “early-stage discussions” with Apple to jointly develop self-driving electric cars, the car manufacturer’s stock skyrocketed in Seoul, South Korea, by almost 20pc.
However, as the day unfolded and the news hit several other outlets, Hyundai has since walked back from its initial statement, most likely due to Apple’s infamous secrecy around its products and partnerships.
According to Bloomberg, Hyundai’s revised statement said it had been contacted by potential partners for the development of autonomous electric vehicles, removing any reference to Apple.
If such a partnership was to proceed, Philip Beil, senior vice-president for transportation and mobility at consultancy firm Publicis Sapient, said it would make sense for both Apple and Hyundai.
“If Apple indeed want to become a significant player in the field of electric (self-driving) cars, they either need to build up their own car development and manufacturing skills or they have to find a partner who will be in charge of developing and producing the hardware, while Apple focuses on the software side of things,” he said.
“For Hyundai such a partnership model can make sense. They can tap into Apple’s superior pool of high-tech innovation talents, leverage existing pre-work from Apple and also create a strong brand story for the new products.”
Apple’s road to self-driving cars
Apple’s journey in the self-driving car space has been far from smooth. While plans for its ‘Project Titan’ were gaining ground in 2015, the company then announced a halt to the project as it switched focus from the hardware of the cars themselves to the software for the internal technology.
However, as 2020 drew to a close, Reuters reported that the company is planning to produce a passenger vehicle that could include new battery technology by 2024.
This came at an unfortunate time for Tesla, as the Apple news clashed with the self-driving car player’s first day on the S&P 500 Index. While Apple declined to comment on the Reuters report at the time, it appeared to result in an accelerated sell-off of Tesla stock at the end of its first day on the S&P Index.
Whether Apple will partner with Hyundai in its potential car plans remains to be seen. However, it appears the self-driving car race is just getting started.