Autos

Will Apple Turn to GM or Ford in Electric Car Race?

There were rumors that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) would launch an electric and perhaps autonomous car with either Kia or Hyundai, both parts of the same massive South Korean conglomerate. Recent reports say that talks have slowed. However, if Apple wants to launch a car in its 2024 timeframe, it will need a global manufacturing partner. The very short list of those includes Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM).

Ford needs the partnership more. In a 24/7 Wall St. article titled “Ford’s Investment in Electric Vehicles Comes Too Late” we pointed out: “Ford’s problem is not only its larger rivals by unit sales. Tesla clearly has the global lead in electric vehicle sales. Units shipped last year topped 500,000. Tesla expects that figure to rise by 50% in 2021. Among the smaller companies at the vanguard of the industry are Blink Charging, Fisker, Nio and Xpeng Motors.”

Ford will invest $29 billion into its EV and AV work, but a brand like Apple’s and its hundreds of millions of customers may be the best chance Ford has.

GM says it will commit $27 billion to have an EV fleet of 30 by 2025. It also claims it will eliminate all diesel and gas-powered new cars by 2035. There is no reason, of course, to know if GM can hit those hurdles. The car industry is filled with forecasts that never became true. As it announced its plans, GM chief executive Mary Barra said: “As one of the world’s largest automakers, we hope to set an example of responsible leadership in a world that is faced with climate change.” That is a wish and not a fact. GM has set a partnership with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to speed along its EV and AV work.

As with Ford, there would be nothing like an Apple partnership to jumpstart efforts. Along with the Apple brand, there is its balance sheet that has over $100 billion in cash, which it has not used much for M&A and which grows by the quarter.

Apple’s only other likely partners, if it wants scale to hit the car market are Volkswagen and Toyota Motor Corporation. The means an Apple partner list is very limited. GM and Ford need Apple more than the others, which could, in and of itself, make them more pliable partners.

Apple and Amazon race to be America’s largest company