Hong Kong (CNN Business)Hyundai’s stock is on pace for its best day in at least two decades on reports that the South Korean automaker is in early talks with Apple to develop self-driving electric cars.
While nothing has been finalized, several media outlets reported Friday that Hyundai has confirmed that it is talking to Apple. The news was initially reported by Korea Economic Daily TV, though Reuters, Bloomberg and others have since reported that Hyundai says it is in some kind of discussion with Apple (AAPL) about a car tie-up.
CNN Business has been unable to confirm the nature of the discussions. Hyundai said in a statement only that “we are receiving proposals for cooperation from various companies, but no decision has been made yet.”
Apple declined to comment.
Shares in the automaker, though, are surging as investors consider the possibility that Hyundai (HYMTF) could be a partner on Apple’s long-rumored car project. The stock was last up more than 20% in Seoul, putting it on pace for its best day in at least 20 years, according to data provider Refinitiv.
Both companies have reason to consider a partnership. Talk of Apple’s interest in electric, self-driving cars has existed for years, though it has been heating up recently. A Reuters report last month, citing unnamed sources, said that Apple plans to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024. A Bloomberg report this week, also citing unnamed sources, said that Apple has begun early development work on an electric vehicle, but any resulting product would be at least five years away.
Hyundai, meanwhile, has pledged top dollar to join the race to build such vehicles. The company said last October that it plans to invest 41 trillion won ($37 billion) into “future mobility technology” by 2025 — a commitment that puts it on par with major players like Volkswagen.
In December, Hyundai unveiled engineering for a series of new electric cars. Called E-GMP, this basic vehicle structure will provide for over 300 miles of driving range, according to Hyundai, and can be charged to 80% of its full power in 18 minutes. It can be used as the basis of sedans and SUVs, the company has said.
“We believe Apple is in the early stages of talks and looking at a handful of strategic partnerships and collaborations globally with existing auto makers on the [electric vehicle] front, with Hyundai on the radar,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a research note published shortly after reports about the Hyundai discussions first broke.
He added that self-driving cars are probably fairly far off for Apple given safety and regulatory issues. But he said that electric cars are “what could ultimately be a trillion dollar opportunity globally over the next decade.”
“It’s a smart strategic move for Apple to dive into the deep end of the pool on this new age of [electric] vehicles,” Ives said.
— Peter Valdes-Dapena and Yoonjung Seo contributed reporting.
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