Apple approached Nissan about becoming a contract manufacturer for its much-discussed self-driving electric car, according to the Financial Times (subscription required). However, talks ended after a disagreement over branding, the paper reported.
With no in-house automotive experience, Apple is expected to partner with an existing automaker to manufacture its rumored electric car, also known as "Project Titan," similar to how it contracts with third-party manufacturers for its iPhones.
Apple started discussions with Nissan "in recent months," but "the contact was brief and discussions did not advance to senior management levels" after the two sides disagreed over branding for the vehicles, according to the Financial Times. Nissan balked at the idea of making Apple-branded cars, the paper reported, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.
2022 Nissan Frontier
Hyundai and Kia also recently ended talks with Apple about a car-manufacturing partnership. Again, Hyundai was reportedly concerned that its image might be tarnished if it was perceived as a mere contract manufacturer for Apple.
The tech giant still has options available. Apple is reportedly also in talks with General Motors and Stellantis, although it's unclear if those discussions are about car production. Even Taiwan's Foxconn, which manufactures iPhones for Apple, is moving to expand into the car business. Last fall, it unveiled a modular EV platform, and more recently teamed up with China's Geely and EV startup Byton.
While some analysts expect Apple to upend the car industry the same way it revolutionized consumer electronics, it's unclear exactly what standout features the "Apple Car" will have. Most reports point to self-driving capability, and a December report mentioned game-changing battery technology, but details are scarce. Recent reports indicate the car could start production before the end of the decade—assuming Apple can find a manufacturing partner, that is.