The rumor mill refuses to let go of speculation that tech-giant Apple is looking for an automotive partner. So far, we know little to nothing about a potential iCar, but that it’s likely to be an EV and feature some level of advanced autonomous capability.
The news saw $8.5 billion wiped off the market value of both companies combined. Now speculation is rampant that Apple is still on the hunt for a partner with large-scale production know-how.
A report by CNN suggests analysts predict a tie-up with a different manufacturer. The article is based on quotes that the potential Hyundai-Apple collaboration fell through due to Hyundai’s vast scale and vertically integrated supply. Claims were that Hyundai executives eventually became reluctant to be a contract manufacturer, having built a company with a long history of independence.
Jürgen Pieper, an analyst at the German bank Metzle, told CNN that Apple could go with another major automaker including Honda, Stellantis, Nissan and BMW. “Maybe BMW sees it a bit differently, saying, ‘OK, at some point we have to accept that Apple is entering the auto business, and if that is happening, we want to be the partner instead of anybody else,’ ” said Pieper.
Another option for Apple would be to go down the route taken by many of the world’s leading automotive brands and tie-up with an independent contract manufacturer such as Magna Steyr.
Magna, who has built cars for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and many others, could potentially be open to a manufacturing and R&D contract with Apple. One of their most recent projects was the development of Sony’s Vision S concept car — an EV that even made it to the road-testing phase.
However, speaking to Car & Driver, Sony confirmed they had no plans to sell or mass-produce a car — instead, using it as a hotbed of innovation to remain a part of an autonomous vehicle-filled future.
Could the Vision S align with Apple’s potential plans to create their own car? Could Magna be a partner in it? And perhaps more importantly, would Sony ever be willing to hand over branding and tech to one of their biggest rivals.
Since the breakdown of talks with Hyundai/Kia, the only sure thing is that the Apple car’s future seems a fair bit bleaker.