We previously reported on Apple’s car project, codenamed “Project Titan.” The rumors began more than a decade ago, when Steve Jobs toyed with the idea, according to Mickey Drexler, a former Apple board member (via Fast Company). In our current timeline, Apple is getting closer to making its dream car a reality. Even though Apple is keeping it under wraps, we know it will be an autonomous vehicle equipped with cutting-edge AI technology.
However, we all know that Apple has no experience building cars, which is likely one of the reasons why the car is taking so long to be revealed to the public. However, Apple has been secretly hiring experienced automotive engineers to work on the project. Aside from that, Apple has considered collaborating with a few established automakers to help build the car. Let’s go deeper and look at the potential candidates for building the Apple car.
The Korea Economic Daily first reported rumors about Apple’s collaboration with Hyundai in January 2021. According to the report, Apple was negotiating a partnership with Hyundai to develop an autonomous electric vehicle. Other sources told CNBC that Apple’s self-driving car would be built at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia.
Only a few weeks after the news broke, Hyundai announced that its potential deal with Apple was no longer on the table (via Reuters). The discussions with Apple appear to have caused internal divisions within Hyundai, as some board members speculated about the company’s direction to become a contract manufacturer for Apple’s car — similar to how Foxconn manufactures the iPhone but Apple owns it.
However, Hyundai could have told the media that a potential deal with Apple was not going to happen for another reason. According to Bloomberg, Hyundai retracted its statement that it was in talks with Apple to build its self-driving car just hours after confirming it. For a company that thrives on secrecy, it’s possible that Apple was upset that Hyundai was disclosing its secrets to the public, forcing it to revise its statement and cancel the deal a few weeks later.
LG/Magna Joint Venture
In 2016, rumors circulated that Apple intended to build its car with Magna (via 9to5Mac). This came after a German publication reported that Apple had established a top-secret facility in Berlin and hired engineers from German automakers. An anonymous source also confirmed to Bloomberg that Magna engineers were working with Apple’s Sunnyvale team.
The Korea Times reported that a joint venture between Magna International and LG was on the verge of signing a contract with Apple to manufacture its car. This came two months after it was reported that its talks with Hyundai had failed. The partnership is known as “LG Magna e-Powertrain,” and it was signed on July 28, 2021.
However, neither Magna International nor LG have confirmed whether the joint venture was formed specifically to manufacture Apple’s car, but it makes sense. Magna International has been supplying auto parts to Toyota, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, Kia, Hyundai, and Ford for many years. LG, on the other hand, could provide the batteries for Apple’s electric vehicle, as it did for the Hyundai Kona Electric and Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Before launching CarPlay in 2014, Apple collaborated with Volkswagen to integrate the iPhone into the Beetle. The iBeetle came with an iPhone docking station, and drivers could download a special Volkswagen app on the iPhone to access features like engine diagnostics, fuel economy, navigation, and hands-free phone calls. Before it was officially released, the iBeetle was essentially like driving a car with CarPlay.
But Apple’s relationship with Volkswagen didn’t just end with the iBeetle. Following the failure of Apple’s partnership talks with Mercedes-Benz and BMW to develop a self-driving electric vehicle, Volkswagen stepped in (via New York Times). Apple collaborated with Volkswagen to install its self-driving software in the Transporter T6 van for testing purposes, so it was only used to transport Apple employees.
Given their history, it’s possible that Volkswagen and Apple will collaborate again to create the Apple car. “Volkswagen is the most likely EV partner for Apple,” Wedbush Securities managing director and equity research analyst Daniel Ives told Bloomberg. Ives also stated that Volkswagen could benefit Apple because it is making significant strides in the EV market — and Apple’s car could be an EV. However, Volkswagen’s CEO is unsure whether Apple will proceed with its plan to build a car, but he is confident that it will expand in the car software market (via Reuters).
Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., is Apple’s longest-serving iPhone contract manufacturer. According to Bloomberg, Foxconn is a possible candidate to build the Apple car because it works closely with Apple. In fact, Foxconn has been experimenting with electric vehicles since 2021. Last year, the company signed a contract with Fisker to begin assembling electric vehicles in the United States as early as 2023.
Foxconn also collaborated with Stellantis, an automaker, to provide semiconductors for electric vehicles. This agreement comes just two months after the company unveiled its first electric vehicle prototypes in Taiwan. “Our biggest challenge is that we don’t know how to make cars,” Young Liu, Foxconn’s CEO and chairman, told reporters when the EV prototypes were revealed. Foxconn, on the other hand, appears to be a serious contender for “Project Titan” given its recent interest in semiconductors and electric vehicles.
Apple Could Make the Car Itself
Since beginning work on its car project, Apple has recruited top-tier automotive engineers from other companies. According to Bloomberg, Apple hired Desi Ujkashevic, a former executive and engineer at Ford for over three decades. It also hired Tesla’s former vice president of vehicle engineering, Porsche’s vice president of chassis development, and top Mission Motors engineers. The list continues, and it appears that the Avengers of experienced automotive engineers have gathered.
Furthermore, Apple acquired a self-driving technology start-up (via The Verge) and leased buildings in Silicon Valley with Greek mythology code-names that could be related to “Project Titan.” When Apple filed charges against its former engineer, it revealed that up to 5,000 employees were working on “Project Titan,” according to The Washington Post. Given the resources it has committed to the project, it is possible that Apple, like Tesla, will manufacture its self-driving vehicle in-house.
Apple is planning to manufacture the car by 2025, but it could delay until 2028.