Hopes sink for Kia deal with Apple to make autonomous vehicles in Ga.

File photo of Kia plant in West Point, Georgia. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP)
File photo of Kia plant in West Point, Georgia. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP)

Credit: Todd J. Van Emst

Credit: Todd J. Van Emst

Hopes for a deal between Apple and Hyundai to make electric autonomous vehicles at a Kia plant in Georgia have quickly evaporated. The development at least stalls prospects for what could have been a big, jobs-heavy economic infusion in the state.

Both Hyundai and affiliate Kia, which has a sprawling assembly plant in West Point, said in regulatory filings Monday that they are not in talks with Apple about making autonomous vehicles.

While The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets reported that talks had broken down, it wasn’t immediately clear what might have led to the collapse or what, if any, chances there are for a restart.

Kia and Hyundai each said in their filings Monday that they have fielded inquiries from many companies about jointly developing autonomous electric vehicles. Both South Korean automakers said nothing had been decided related to those requests.

Hyundai had said last month it was in early talks with Apple, but later dropped mention of the tech giant.

In West Point, locals had barely gotten a chance to get used to prospects of Apple being associated with the little west Georgia city. Mayor Steve Tramell said “it would have been phenomenal to have that kind of boost in our community” and called the latest news “very disappointing.”

Still, he predicted the community will continue to do well with Kia. Tramell said the city of 3,600 balloons by 10,000 people daily with workers at Kia and its suppliers.

Georgia officials have been informed of the latest regulatory filings by the automakers. State officials had stressed last week that any partnership agreement between the companies had not been finalized.

ExploreApple’s self-driving electric car project could call Georgia home

Still, Gov. Brian Kemp had said on Thursday that he welcomed the possibility of Apple-branded vehicles being produced locally.

“Kia’s commitment to excellence and its strong partnership with the state only strengthens Georgia’s status as a leader in technology, innovation and manufacturing,” he said at the time.

A Korean news agency had reported that Apple could invest $3.6 billion, with operations staring in 2024, according to Bloomberg.

-Staff reporter Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.

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