Hyundai and subsidiary Kia killed off talk of a potential “Apple Car” deal on Monday, stating flatly that they were “not having talks” with Apple about autonomous electric vehicle assembly. Now, analyst thinks BMW, Stellantis, Magna, and others remain among candidates to assemble the “Apple Car.”
Hyundai and Kia would have burnished their reputations by partnering with Apple, and their factories would have churned out more cars. But it’s not clear that partnering with Apple would have helped vault the companies to the top of global carmaking.
“If you’re Apple, you clearly want control over everything to do with your product,” said Demian Flowers, an automotive analyst at Commerzbank. “You want a contract manufacturer, not really a partner.”
With speculation mounting recently, Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Honda, Nissan and Stellantis, the new autos group formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA, have all been floated by analysts as potential Apple partners… “Apple will not help the company that ends up doing this,” said Flowers. “Apple will not share anything. The only benefit you’ll get from Apple is the volumes.”
Jürgen Pieper, an analyst at the German bank Metzler, agrees that big carmakers have the most to lose. “They don’t want to open the door to Apple… 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. Apple may seek to avoid battles over branding and creative control by hiring a contract producer such as Magna, which already builds cars for automakers including Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, BMW and Jaguar.
MacDailyNews Take: BMW certainly offers more cachet than Hyundai/Kia. It’s “German engineering,” after all, with which Steve Jobs was long fascinated.
Magna has the expertise to assemble high end vehicles plus offers the benefit of having no real consumer-facing branding to get dilute the Apple brand. In fact, way back in September 2016, Bloomberg News reported that about a dozen Magna engineers have been working with Apple’s Project Titan team in Sunnyvale, California to develop a vehicle, citing “a person familiar with the arrangement.”