Hyundai Motor Co backed away from a statement confirming that it is in talks with Apple Inc on developing self-driving vehicles that yesterday fueled an US$8 billion surge in the Korean automaker’s market value.
Instead, it received requests for potential cooperation from a number of companies, Hyundai said.
Revising its statement for the second time in a matter of hours, Hyundai said it had been contacted by potential partners for the development of autonomous electric vehicles, removing any reference to Apple.
Hyundai shares surged 19 percent, only slightly paring their gains after the statement confirming discussions was revised.
By initially naming Apple, Hyundai risks the ire of the technology giant known for its secretiveness when it comes to new products and partnerships.
With development work still at an early stage, Apple will take at least half a decade to launch an autonomous electric vehicle, people with knowledge of the efforts told Bloomberg News.
That suggests that the company is in no hurry to decide on potential industry partners.
Hyundai’s stock jump in Seoul was the biggest since 1988.
A cable TV unit of Korea Economic Daily first reported the discussions with Apple, saying that Hyundai completed internal talks on the project and is awaiting approval from its chairman.
Following the report, Hyundai initially issued a statement saying that it is one of various automakers that Apple had been in early contact with.
The Korean company then revised that statement less than 30 minutes later, removing the reference to other automakers.
However, a few hours later, it issued another revision that omitted Apple.
“We’ve been receiving requests for potential cooperation from various companies regarding development of autonomous EVs [electric vehicles]. No decisions have been made as discussions are in early stage,” the latest version said.
Apple declined to comment.
An Apple car would rival other electric vehicles from Tesla Inc and offerings from companies such as upstart Lucid Motors and established manufacturers like Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG.
Setting up a vehicle factory can cost billions of US dollars and take years, likely the reason for Apple’s talks with potential manufacturing partners.
“Apple needs to partner with a carmaker because it doesn’t have production capabilities and sales networks to sell its cars,” said Lee Han-joon, an analyst at KTB Investment & Securities Co in Seoul. “Building up those capabilities can’t be done quickly, so Apple will need a partner for that.”
Bending metal is also a lower-margin business than providing the software, chips and sensors that future cars would rely on.
Apple has continued to investigate building its self-driving vehicle system for a third-party manufacturer rather than its own vehicle, the people said, adding that the company could ultimately abandon its own efforts in favor of this approach.
Other technology companies seeking to expand into the autonomous driving space have also sought partnerships.
Alphabet Inc’s self-driving vehicle unit Waymo has worked with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, while Amazon.com Inc has tapped Rivian Automotive Inc for cooperation to develop delivery vans.
Hyundai would provide Apple with a partner that is already accelerating a push into new technologies such as electric, driver-less and flying vehicles, including setting up a US$4 billion autonomous-driving joint venture.
The venture, with Aptiv PLC, is expected to have a production-ready autonomous driving platform available for robotaxi providers, fleet operators and manufacturers next year.
The South Korean company is this year set to introduce its first EV, Ioniq 5, built on a dedicated platform.
Hyundai, along with its Kia unit, plans to have 23 new electric models and sell 1 million units by 2025.
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