CNBC's automotive reporter Phil LeBeau this evening reports that Apple is "close to finalizing a deal with Hyundai Kai to manufacture an Apple-branded autonomous vehicle at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia," referring to South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group, citing multiple unnamed sources.
The vehicle is tentatively scheduled for a 2024 production run, writes LeBeau.
LeBeau's report follows Hyundai last month confirming that it was in talks with Apple for a potential collaboration to develop the so-called Apple Car.
Speculation has swirled on Wall Street whether a collaboration would be for a vehicle carried under Apple's brand name, or just a technology partnership to put Apple software into a Hyundai car.
LeBeau's report suggests that it is the former, a fully-fledged Apple product.
Writes LeBeau, "the tech giant wants to build the 'Apple Car' in North America with an established automaker willing to allow Apple to control the software and hardware that will go into the vehicle."
"In other words, this will be an 'Apple Car,' not a Kia model featuring Apple software," adds LeBeau.
LeBeau notes that sources tell him Apple could get ink a deal with another automaker, and that Apple is believed to be talking with other car makers.
The spate of reports about Apple and Hyundai in the last month or so follow a Reuters article in late December stating that Apple's on-again, off-again "Project Titan" for automobiles was back in gear. @