SEOUL – Hyundai may be in early stage discussions with Apple after the Korea Economic Daily reported that the two were in talks to cooperate on electric cars and batteries, sending Hyundai shares surging some 20%.

“Apple and Hyundai are in discussions but they are at an early stage and nothing has been decided,” Hyundai said in a statement to Reuters.

Sources told Reuters in December that Apple, whose automotive efforts had proceeded unevenly since 2014, was now targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that would include its own breakthrough battery technology.

The news hit shares of Tesla and sent those of a number of current or potential partners for Apple higher. Analysts said at the time that the potential of such a development would hinge on Apple (or a potential partner) having made strides in battery tech. Now, we know that Hyundai is one of those potential partners. 

“We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided,” a Hyundai spokesperson reportedly told CNBC:

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.

This article contains reporting from Reuters.

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