So long Hyundai and Kia, hello Magna International and LG?
The Korea Times reports Apple has tapped Canadian automotive supplier Magna International and Korean giant LG Electronics to build its first cars.
The American tech giant is reportedly “very near” to signing contracts with the two companies, who announced last year they were forming a joint-venture tentatively called LG Magna e-Powertrain.
A source familiar with the deal told The Korea Times contract details are still being discussed but Apple reportedly hopes to reveal a prototype of its electric autonomous vehicle in 2024.
It’s suggested to be a low-volume offering at first as Apple is using the car to evaluate its potential in the market.
Various affiliates of LG Group such as LG Chem are already in Apple’s supply chain which the source says provides reassurance to Apple that there won’t be any supply chain issues.
Magna has also previously confirmed it would build vehicles at a plant in North America if it were contracted to do so.
The company currently manufactures components as well as whole vehicles for automakers through its subsidiary Magna Steyr, with the latter including models like the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace.
Previous reports have also indicated Apple wants to build its vehicle in North America with an established manufacturer so it can control the software and hardware that go into the vehicle.
LG Electronics recently announced it was discontinuing production of its smartphones, with investors calling for it to invest more heavily in the manufacturing of vehicle components.
The company has supplied electric motors and battery packs to companies such as General Motors, Hyundai and Tesla.
LG Magna e-Powertrain is valued at US$1 billion (A$1.3 billion), with LG owning 51 per cent and Magna the other 49 per cent.
Apple had previously been looking to Hyundai Motor Group to produce its first cars, though the Korean automaker announced earlier this year it wasn’t in talks to produce cars for the tech giant.
It was reportedly set to produce vehicles based on its E-GMP platform but with software upgraded by Apple, with production slated for the Kia factory in West Point, Georgia in the US.
Hyundai reportedly had concerns about being a mere contract manufacturer for Apple rather than a strategic partner.
The Korean giant has a particularly vertically integrated supply chain and even manufactures its own steel.
Apple has been famously secretive about its vehicle development program and hasn’t commented on any developments.