In a statement to the South Korean securities regulator, the automakers denied being in talks with Apple:
“We are receiving requests for cooperation in joint development of self-driving electric vehicles from a number of companies. It has not been decided at [this] early stage,” the statement said. “We are not conducting consultations with Apple on the development of autonomous vehicles.”
South Korea requires that publicly traded companies provide public updates when they have been the subject of significant rumors that have the power to move share prices.
Bloomberg reported that talks had been underway, but recently paused by Apple. The Monday-morning statements confirm Bloomberg’s report and offer further information about the suspended discussions.
Speculation around the South Korean companies swirled in early January when Kia seemed to indicate it was going to develop batteries with Apple.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has been in discussions with other automobile manufacturers.
Reuters reported in December that Apple was moving toward selling an electric car, possibly by relying on the company’s advances in battery technology, as soon as 2024.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Hyundai had approached other companies about partnering to build an Apple car at Kia’s automobile plant in Georgia. The Journal quoted an anonymous individual as saying the arrangement could have Kia building 100,000 autonomous electric cars a year at the plant for Apple.
Last week, Ford Motor Co. and Google announced they were going to cooperate in the connected-car space. For Chief Executive Jim Farley said in a prepared statement: “As Ford continues the most profound transformation in our history with electrification, connectivity and self-driving, Google and Ford coming together establishes an innovation powerhouse truly able to deliver a superior experience for our customers and modernize our business.”