Apple is reportedly in talks with Kia and about to sign a $3.6 billion (£2.7 billion) deal. It is said the cash would cover the cost of developing a new electric vehicle and creating a production line at the Korean automaker's plant in West Point, Georgia – a small town on that state's border with Alabama, about 80 miles from Atlanta, GA.
Rumours about Apple developing an electric vehicle have been flying for years now. Dubbed Project Titan, it is expected to have a strong emphasis on self-driving. Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted as much back in 2017 when he said autonomy is "a core technology that we view as very important" and that developing it is "the mother of all AI projects."
After spending the past few years apparently in park, the Apple car rumour mill has more recently started back up again and now seems to be in high gear. In January, we heard murmurings of the iPhone maker being in talks with Hyundai with a possible launch date of a concept vehicle in 2022 and production starting in 2024.
Hyundai moved quickly to tamp down that talk, stating that it was only one of several companies Apple has been in talks with and that no final decision had been reached. The volume and varied sources of the rumours make this latest report more believable. The Kia brand does, after all, belong to the Hyundai Motor Group.
Investors also seem to be putting stock (pun definitely intended) into the fresh reports. Kia's share price rose by as much as 14.5 percent on the Korea Exchange, closing up 9.65 percent.
If the deal goes through, the Kia West Point Assembly Plant could initially produce 100,000 vehicles a year, with the potential to expand to 400,000 vehicles per year. It currently produces 340,000 vehicles a year.
If the deal goes through, it seems likely it would use the E-GMP platform. That is the new platform that will sit under vehicles like the soon-to-be-revealed Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the production version of the Kia Imagine Concept.