Apple’s plans to build a “breakthrough” electric car that could compete with Tesla appear to be heating up.
South Korean auto giant Hyundai said it’s having early discussions with the iPhone maker on Friday after a local broadcaster reported that the companies were hatching plans to develop self-driving electric vehicles.
“Apple and Hyundai are in discussion, but as it is early stage, nothing has been decided,” Hyundai said in a statement, without revealing what exactly the discussions are about.
The public statement was unusual given that Apple is highly secretive about its plans for future products. And Hyundai on Friday appeared skittish about providing more details.
The company initially said Apple was in talks with other big automakers, but it reportedly issued a revision to its statement removing that reference.
In a subsequent regulatory filing, Hyundai said only that it was “getting requests for cooperation on joint development of autonomous electric vehicles from various companies” but did not name any of them.
The PR snafu didn’t stop Hyundai’s stock price from skyrocketing on the news that it was talking with Apple. The Korea-listed shares ended the day up more than 19 percent at 246,000 won, or $225.02.
Reports first emerged last month that Apple was working to produce an electric car by 2024 with a new battery design that could slash the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range.
The tech titan’s talks with Hyundai are focused on developing self-driving electric vehicles by 2027 and developing batteries at American factories run by Hyundai or its subsidiary Kia, Korea Economic Daily TV reported.
Hyundai could end up being just one of Apple’s electric-car partners — which will be crucial for the cutting-edge project given that building its own vehicles would be a heavy lift for the Cupertino, California-based company, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.
“The company has been working in Cupertino for years around this autonomous vision and we believe a potential larger strategic partnership with an established EV player such as Tesla or [Volkswagen] would be a golden partnership for the next decade tapping into this EV opportunity,” Ives said in a research note.
Apple declined to comment Friday. The Silicon Valley giant’s shares were up about 0.4 percent at $131.44 as of 10:55 a.m.