The Reuters report, quoting Korea IT News, said the two sides could clinch a deal on the project in March.
Hyundai had earlier said it was engaged in the early stages of talks with Apple. That statement followed a report issued by other South Korean media that the two companies had plans to proceed jointly with an autonomous vehicle in seven years’ time.
Industry sources said the production centre for such a project would be in the U.S. state of Georgia at a Kia Motors plant or at a facility to be built.
An earlier version of the Korea IT News report said the two companies planned to produce 100,000 vehicles annually within three years, with the plant able to maintain a capacity of 400,000 vehicles. Kia motors is an affiliate of Hyundai Motor.
That report said a “beta version” of the car – software made available for testing – would be produced next year.
The Apple electric car is already widely seen as a possible competitor to Tesla. Some media reports have quoted sources as saying that a car is undergoing secret tests in California and that the car will be equipped with a new type of battery several times cheaper than those currently in use and able to travel further.
At issue here may be a “monocell” battery using innovative materials – as opposed to lithium-ion batteries already in wide use.
Reports first emerged five years ago about Apple’s intention to design and create a car. Several hundred engineers were engaged in designing a vehicle dubbed “Project Titan”. But subsequent reports repeatedly suggested that the company was abandoning the project.
Two years ago, Apple announced that its engineering teams were engaged in creating an autonomous vehicle system with associated technologies and had even patented a thermal control system for propulsion systems of electric vehicles and hybrids. The company also hired Steve MacManus, Tesla’s Vice-President for Engineering.