The Apple Car shapes up as pricey Tesla assembled by Kia

Apple's electric car shapes up as Tesla competitor assembled by Kia
UPDATE: According to Korean media, Apple's deal with Kia to assemble its electric car is nearing completion. Apple will be fronting Kia $3.6 billion to build a dedicated plant for its future autonomous electric cars in Georgia with the goal to produce up to 100,000 units in 2024.

If we rewind a few years back, Tesla's first foray into electric cars was the Roadster, positioned in the expensive supercar niche whose clients are used to shelling upwards of a hundred grand for a hamster wheel of a car that can go from zero to hero in no time flat.

This allowed it to work with higher margins, which along with subsidies, green credits and investor hopes, would subsequently let it expand into the capital-intensive mid- to low-price range where economies of scale would eventually kick in. 

Fast forward a decade or so, and Tesla's strategy proved somewhat successful on Main Street, as green credit sales keep its bookkeeping and production plans afloat, and wildly successful on Wall Street, especially for its proponent Elon Musk and his stock options.

Apple to price its first electric car like Tesla

Apple, it turns out, is not only knee-deep in strategizing its first electric vehicle, reiterates the company's famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today, but it also may be planning to do it the Tesla way, by releasing an expensive, premium electric car first, and then take it from there.

The rumors that Apple has anointed Hyundai as its electric mobility partner got confirmed by Mr Kuo with a few more important details. Apparently, Apple will build its battery-powered car on Hyundai's e-GMP electric vehicle platform, and the technical adoption will be spearheaded by Hyundai Group. The component design and production cooperation will allegedly be with the Hyundai Mobis division, while the actual Apple Car conveyor belts will be run by... Kia.

So far so good but the report claims that Apple will position its car as a "very high-end model," all the while it would be making "good use of existing car factory resources and focus on automatic driving software and hardware, semiconductors, battery-related technology, appearance, and interior space design, innovative user experience, and integration of the existing Apple ecosystem." No wonder Hyundai reportedly had reservations about working with Apple as a mere contract manufacturer as it could be squeezed on costs, while the margins for Apple would be high.

Apple Car specs and release date

  • At least 300-mile range
  • 80% in 18 minutes charging
  • 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds
  • 2025 release at the earliest

Hyundai's e-GMP platform, however, is obviously deemed superior than Foxconn's MIH one by Apple, hence the company that makes its iPhones won't be making its cars, too. Hyundai, on the other hand, may have deduced that the high Apple Car street price would actually lead to higher prices for its component and assembly services than it can get elsewhere or going it alone, especially while Apple is getting its foot in the electric door. 

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A win for Hyundai is a win for Apple, too, as it will shrink its time-to-market range significantly, compared to building its own supply chain from scratch, so it might have had to negotiate in better faith on the adoption of the e-GMP platform.

After a few contradicting reports and hesitation over the Apple-Hyundai tie-up that oscillated the Apple Car release date anywhere from 2024-2027, now Ming-Chi Kuo confirms that range:

As for what prompted the gang from Cupertino to choose the most promising electric car manufacturer this side of Tesla, here are Hyundai's e-GMP electric vehicle platform promises that may very well be translated into the minimum Apple Car specs:

  • Electric vehicles based on E-GMP can provide range over 500km on a full charge (WLTP) and be charged up to 80% within 18 minutes through high-speed charging.
  • High performance model based on E-GMP will accelerate from zero to 100kph in less than 3.5 seconds, with top speed of 260kph.
  • Components optimize driving dynamics and safety, and maximize cabin space.
  • Integrated Power Electric system includes world’s first multi-charging (400V/800V) and bi-directional power conversion function.
  • Platform modularization and standardization enable rapid and flexible development depending on customer needs.

There you have it, by the time the Apple Car hits Kia's conveyor belts, it could add 300 miles of range or so in the time needed to grab a coffee from the gas station, and, given its expected "high performance" price, it would be in the 3-second acceleration club. Now the only questions left is how it will look like inside and outside (Electrec's render above may not do it justice), and will you only be able to unlock it with an iPhone, the important stuff.

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