Several reports suggest that Apple is making a major step in its venture into the automobile industry.
On Sunday, a local Korean news outlet reported that Apple Inc and Hyundai Motors are in the process of striking a partnership deal on autonomous electric cars.
The deal would supposedly be signed by March and production could be expected in 2024 in the United States.
At the mere mention of this deal, Hyundai's share price skyrocketed – despite the lack of details. Investors added $14-billion to the Korean company, which had a market capitalisation of $59-billion, as of Monday, January 11, according to Reuters analysts.
Hyundai declined to comment on the report, holding its card close to its chest and saying that it had received requests for potential partnerships from various companies to develop autonomous electric vehicles.
Apple also kept mum and issued no immediate comment.
The Korean outlet updated its article and retracted several juicy tidbits including a rumoured production location, capacity and the timeframe (March, as mentioned above) for signing the agreement, as well as the launching the pilot vehicles.
Partnerships between automakers and tech industry giants make perfect sense at face-value because of the rapid rate the auto industry is moving away from the combustion engine towards electric vehicles and eventually, autonomous vehicles.
While partnerships make it easy to tap into an area of expertise – technology companies are not experienced in manufacturing vehicles and automakers are not as versed keeping up with technology advancements – there are still pitfalls.
If companies do not invest in their own proprietary solutions they are at the mercy of their partners and could be left high and dry if their partner pulls out. To this end, Volkswagen has invested heavily in building up its technology infrastructure over the next five years.
While things are far from definite we can almost be certain that the 'Apple Car' will not be available for quite sometime after its launch. Tesla, a manufacturer at the EV forefront, is also not available in the country yet.
There is a precedent of Apple being slow, to roll out its novel technology on the continent, take Apple Pay for example, which launched in October 2014, but still isn't available in South Africa or anywhere else in Africa.
However, rumours suggest that the payment method could be available in the country sometime in 2021, six years late, but as they say, better late than never.