Reports in early January claimed that Apple was close to inking a manufacturing deal for its electric self-driving Apple Car. Hyundai and its affiliate Kia were expected to score the lucrative contract. The former initially confirmed talks with the iPhone maker before denying that any negotiations took place for Apple Car manufacturing.
The deal would have seen Kia mass-produce the Apple Car at one of its US factories, dedicating an entire production line to Apple. Apple would have provided the hardware design and software, rather than repurposing any of Hyundai or Kia’s models. But the car might have been built on Hyundai’s brand new electric platform. Reports later said that Apple canned the deal, annoyed that Hyundai had revealed something it shouldn’t have.
A new report out of Korea suggests that another company is now in line to take over. This time, it’s not Hyundai-Kia rumored to be close to an Apple Car contract, but LG, via its partnership with Magna.
Last December, LG announced a joint venture with Magna International to manufacture electric motors, inverters, and onboard chargers for electric vehicles. A report detailing LG’s intentions to leave the mobile market and pursue other growth opportunities mentioned the LG-Magna partnership, indicating that Magna had been in talks with Apple. Years ago, a different set of leaks pointed to the Canadian company as a potential Apple Car manufacturer. LG then confirmed it would stop making smartphones, highlighting opportunities in other sectors, including the EV industry:
LG’s strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services.
A new report from The Korea Times now says that LG-Magna is “very near” to the Apple Car project. The deal would give Apple access to the LG Magna e-Powertrain, with LG and Magna handling the initial Apple Car supply.
“LG Magna e-Powertrain is very near to signing contracts with Apple under which they could handle the initial volume production of Apple EVs. Contract details are still being discussed,” an unnamed source told the paper.
The LG Magna e-Powertrain deal is valued at $1 billion. LG will own 51% of the new company, and the deal is expected to close in July.
The initial Apple Car production run “won’t be that huge,” as Apple is interested in evaluating the marketability of a car of its own.
“Because LG Group affiliates including LG Display, LG Chem, LG Energy Solution, and LG Innotek are already included in Apple’s parts supply chain, Apple doesn’t have to worry about any supply chain issues,” the source told the site. “These LG affiliates are qualified to guarantee production yields and faster delivery of parts needed for Apple EVs.”
A different source went on to say that LG isn’t in it for the money, and the monetary volume of the partnership “won’t be huge.” LG would welcome the collaboration because of the extra clout that comes with manufacturing an Apple product.
“As the LG brand is not that strong in the global EV industry, it needs a pretty competitive reference to show off its transformation efforts. From that standpoint, LG’s bet on the Apple EV is not that bad, and vice versa for Apple,” that source said.
LG has already supplied motors, battery packs, and other components for electric vehicles made by General Motors and Tesla. Magna makes automotive electronics for other companies. Magna said before that it’s willing to build cars at a North American plant if contracted to do it.
The report claims that Apple and LG-Magna will establish relevant details for the production run once a deal is reached, and the prototype will be teased in early 2024. Other reports said that Apple is aiming to launch its first-gen electric vehicle in 2024-2025.