Apple Inc's (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans for an autonomous electric car looked less firm on Monday after South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co said it is no longer in talks with the tech giant about the project.
The announcement, just a month after the South Korean group confirmed early-stage talks with the iPhone maker, saw Hyundai’s stock slide 6% in Seoul, while shares in its affiliate Kia Corp, which had been tipped as the likely operational partner for Apple, dropped 15%.
In a statement on Monday, in compliance with Korean stock market rules requiring regular updates to investors regarding market rumours, the automakers said: “We are receiving requests for co-operation in joint development of autonomous electric vehicles from various companies, but they are at early stage and nothing has been decided.”
“We are not having talks with Apple on developing autonomous vehicles,” they added
Kia shares had jumped by over 60% since Hyundai initially confirmed a local media report early in January that Apple and Hyundai were in discussions to develop self-driving electric vehicles by 2027 and develop batteries at US factories operated by either Hyundai or Kia.
As recently as last week, media outlets including CNBC reported that a deal was close to being finalised.
In a report, Reuters noted that Hyundai is traditionally known for its reluctance to work with outsiders, making engines, transmissions and even its own steel in-house in a vertically integrated supply chain as South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate.
Although shares in Kia and Hyundai had surged on news of the talks, internal opposition to becoming an Apple contract manufacturer was considerable, according to people familiar with the matter, Reuters added.
Apple, which is known to keep product plans under tight wraps, has never acknowledged talks with the Korean automaker about building vehicles.