The Apple Car may be edging toward reality after a report out of Korea this week suggested the tech giant may have finally found a partner to help it manufacture its electric vehicle (EV).
Apple is “very near” to inking a deal with Korean firm LG Electronics and Canadian automotive supplier Magna International, according to a Korea Times report this week that cites a source with knowledge of the issue.
Both LG and Magna are themselves expected to collaborate on an initiative tentatively named “LG Magna e-Powertrain.” It’s this joint venture that would embark on the initial round of Apple Car production, the report suggested.
“LG Magna e-Powertrain is very near to signing contracts with Apple under which it could handle the initial volume production of Apple EVs,” the source said, adding that contract details “are still being discussed.”
The report added that the production rate wouldn’t be particularly high at the outset as Apple is “mostly intending to use its first-generation EVs as an opportunity to evaluate their marketability.” Earlier reports have suggested Apple is targeting 2025 for the launch of its electric car, which is also expected to include autonomous features.
The Times noted that following LG’s recent exit from the smartphone market, the Seoul-based firm is now looking to grow its vehicle component business. Indeed, it was revealed last month that LG is “aggressively” expanding production capacity of its existing automotive components business, suggesting the conditions are ripe for a deal with a company such as Apple.
Apple has made numerous automobile-related hires in recent years and has reportedly been talking to a number of companies about the possibility of manufacturing an Apple Car. Discussions with Hyundai and its sister company Kia broke down earlier this year. The reasons weren’t made public, though some suggested that the Korean automakers decided they didn’t want to become contract manufacturers for Apple — similar to how Foxconn makes iPhones and other devices for the tech firm — as it might tarnish their image as mainstream automakers.
In that case, LG and Magna, who aren’t associated with auto manufacturing in the same way as Hyundai and Kia, would be a good fit for Apple, allowing the American company to retain sole branding of its vehicle.
Of course, we’ve been here before with Apple, and so it’s entirely possible that a deal with LG and Magna may not come to fruition.
And while Apple offers little information about its upcoming projects, the company does seem intent on designing its own electric car rather than merely providing software and services to automakers. Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped a few hints in a recent interview in which he mentioned Apple’s love for integrating hardware, software, and services, as well as its desire to “own the primary technology.”
We’ve reached out to Apple, LG, and Magna about the latest reports and will update this article if we hear back.