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The first Apple Car will not need a driver

Published Feb 4th, 2021 6:50AM EST
Apple Car Rumors
Image: YouTube

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  • A source familiar with Apple’s plans says the first Apple Car will be completely autonomous and could be used for delivery services and robotaxis.
  • “The first Apple Cars will not be designed to have a driver,” a source told CNBC.
  • The report also reiterates an earlier rumor that Apple is negotiating with Hyundai-Kia a deal that would allow it to mass-produce the Apple Car in the US and have full control over the hardware and software.

A report from Korea said earlier this week that Apple is about to ink a deal with Hyundai-Kia worth $3.6 billion. The contract could be signed in the coming days, and Kia would use the investment to build a dedicated assembly line for the Apple Car, which could mass-produce anywhere from 100,000 to 400,000 units of self-driving electric cars per year. The report sent the Kia stock surging, after a similar rumor a few weeks ago had the same effect on Hyundai shares — the Korean giant first confirmed, then walked back its Apple partnership comments at the time.

A new report from the US now claims that the Apple deal with Hyundai-Kia is very much on the table, with both sides looking favorably at the association. While nothing is finalized, the new story delivers a few unexpected details about the first-gen Apple Car. The vehicle should be completely autonomous, and it might not target regular buyers initially.

Sources familiar with the negotiations told CNBC that Apple is close to striking a deal with the Hyundai-Kia giant. Apple wants a contract with a manufacturer that can assemble the cars in the States. Also important is complete control over the software and hardware. Apple would design and build its own Apple Car rather than repurposing a Kia design to meet its own needs.

“I doubt Hyundai is the only automaker they could strike a deal with, there could be somebody else,” an insider told CNBC.

The report says that Apple might be looking at other players in the automotive industry that could meet the same needs. Should the Hyundai-Kia deal go through, the Apple Car would be assembled in West Point, Georgia. The Korean story also pointed to Kia’s Georgia plant as the home of the Apple Car.

Hyundai’s chairman Eui-sun Chung is also interested in working with Apple, as it could advance the company’s own interests. “Chung has made it clear, mobility is the future of the company,” a source familiar with Hyundai-Kia said. The Apple Car would be fully autonomous, and Hyundai believes this would accelerate the development of its own self-driving electric vehicles.

What is interesting is the claim that the first Apple Car would be fully autonomous, a feat nobody in the industry delivered, even though many people are working on cars that require no driver.

“The first Apple Cars will not be designed to have a driver,” a source said about the first Apple Car. But the vehicles will also serve a particular purpose. “These will be autonomous, electric vehicles designed to operate without a driver and focused on the last mile.” That involves delivery services and robotaxis, rather than commercial buyers.

The Apple Car is scheduled to go into production in 2024 at the earliest.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.