First Apple Cars Made by Kia ‘Will Not Be Designed to Have a Driver’, Report Says

After Bloomberg’s recent report citing a South Korean news outlet that Apple would be investing $3.6 billion into a Kia factory, we now have another report seemingly corroborating these plans.

According to CNBC on Wednesday, it says Apple is finalizing a deal to produce its electric vehicle at a “Kia assembly plant in West Point, Georgia,” citing multiple sources who briefed the publication on the plan.

An Apple car is said to start production by 2024, but sources familiar with the talks between Apple and Kia-Hyundai say the plan could be delayed.

CNBC says sources say Apple has not decided on an automaker partner and could choose to go with multiple partners, instead of just Hyundai.

“I doubt Hyundai is the only automaker they could strike a deal with, there could be somebody else,” one source told CNBC.

Apple wants to work with an established automaker to build its electric vehicle in North America, specifically a company that will let Apple have full control over hardware and software for the vehicle, which would be a model from the iPhone maker and not Kia.

As for Hyundai, its new chairman, Euisun Chung, took over the company last fall and believes mobility is the future of the company. Partnering with Apple would help Hyundai accelerate its own electric vehicle and self-driving car plans.

Sources familiar with Apple’s car plans inform CNBC, “The first Apple Cars will not be designed to have a driver,” said one source, adding, “These will be autonomous, electric vehicles designed to operate without a driver and focused on the last mile,” suggesting the vehicles could be used by delivery companies and robotaxi ventures.

According to a recent report by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is said to be using Hyundai’s E-GMP battery platform, that supports fast-charging, while the first vehicle most likely won’t hit roads until 2025.