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(Pocket-lint) - Another day and yet more details emerge about Apple's work on autonomous vehicles. Now though, things are taking a more substantial form.  

While it was previously rumoured (and confirmed) that it was in discussions with Hyundai, CNBC reports that a deal now seems close for the two companies.

What's more, it seems the joint venture will produce a fully-electric, fully autonomous vehicle and that production will take place at Kia's plant at West Point, Georgia. Hyundai owns just over a third of Kia. Bloomberg reports the investment could be worth $3.6 billion. 

The new EV will almost certainly be based on Hyundai's E-GMP electric vehicle platform that we've previously reported on. Hyundai has already said that 23 Kia and Hyundai models are on the way based on the platform. It seems clear that Apple wants to tap into the autonomous vehicle market which is set to explode in the years to come - over $500 billion by 2026 according to Allied Market Research

CNBC reports that the vehicle will go into production in 2024, a date we've heard before though the report also suggests that date could be pushed back. The report also confirms that although the vehicle would be assembled by Kia, the vehicle would be an Apple model rather than a Kia vehicle powered by Apple software. 

What's more the project is apparently not even bothering to consider drivers. "The first Apple Cars will not be designed to have a driver" said a source quoted by CNBC. "These will be autonomous, electric vehicles designed to operate without a driver and focused on the last mile." 

The "last mile" suggests the project could focus on delivery vehicles. The most expensive bit of getting something to your home is the journey from the local depot to your door and ever more efficient vehicles for this purpose will create huge cost savings in future. 

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The report also suggests that Hyundai thinks the venture will enable it to further its own autonomous ambitions - it also has a partnership with Aptiv to develop autonomous tech including robotaxis. 

Kia's facility at West Point apparently has spare capacity which could house the project. It opened in 2010.

Writing by Dan Grabham.
  • Source: Apple and Hyundai-Kia pushing toward deal on Apple Car - cnbc.com
Sections Apple Cars