Hinting at a possible tie-up on electric cars and batteries with Apple, Hyundai Motor Co said on Friday that it was in the early stages of discussions with the iPhone maker. As per a report, the Hyundai statement read: “Apple and Hyundai are in discussion, but as it is early stage, nothing has been decided.” This sent Hyundai shares surging by $9 billion in the Seoul exchange after a cable TV unit of Korea Economic Daily initially reported on the talks. This intraday jump was the automaker’s biggest since 1988.
However, within a few hours, the South Korean auto giant backtracked on the statement. It released a subsequent statement to the Seoul stock exchange, where it omitted any reference to Apple. Instead, the automaker said there were “requests for cooperation on joint development of autonomous electric vehicles from various companies”. However, it didn’t identify any company. Apple, too, did not comment on the statement from Hyundai.
Even after the automaker revised its statement, Hyundai shares still continued to remain near those high levels that it had touched earlier.
Hyundai’s move to refrain from naming Apple in the subsequent statement could be to prevent a potential fallout with the iPhone maker. Apple is known to be notoriously tight-lipped about its product development plans. In 2018, it had warned its employees to stop leaking internal information on future plans, stating that it could lead to potential legal action and criminal charges. Bu naming Apple in its initial statement, Hyundai may have breached that confidentiality.
In December, The Guardian had reported that Apple was planning to launch a self-driving car by 2024. The technology giant has plans to build an electric car that could compete with Tesla, the market leader in electric vehicles. Though Apple maintains utmost secrecy about its products, there have been reports that the company has been working on Project Titan, its electric and autonomous car vision, to develop its own vehicle technology, since 2014.
Over time, the share price of Tesla has skyrocketed to the extent that its chief executive and major shareholder Elon Musk this week overtook Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man. While pushing the boundaries of autonomous driving and electric car technology, last year, Tesla shipped about 5 lakh electric vehicles.
Some of the other electric vehicle manufacturers Apple would rival include Lucid Motors, Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG.