Apple approached Japanese auto giant Nissan about the idea of partnering to build an autonomous electric car, but the talks ended when the companies couldn’t agree on branding for the vehicle, Financial Times reported on Sunday, February 14.
The news comes just days after talks between Apple and Korean automaker Hyundai (and its Kia subsidiary) reportedly ended over a similar issue, suggesting the tech company has its work cut out for it in finding a suitable partner to enable it to enter the auto industry.
People claiming to have knowledge of Nissan’s involvement told the Financial Times that the contact was “brief” and that talks failed to progress to senior management levels “following divisions over branding” for the vehicle.
The sources said that Apple wanted to brand the vehicle under its own name, but Nissan reportedly found this unacceptable, fearing it may have a negative impact on its own image, as it would be churning out vehicles for another company and acting more like a supplier than an original maker.
In a statement to Reuters, a Nissan spokesperson declined to confirm or deny that it had been in discussions with Apple, saying only that it is currently “not in talks with Apple,” before adding that “Nissan is always open to exploring collaborations and partnerships to accelerate industry transformation.”
The idea that Apple has been discussing its car project with another automaker besides Hyundai won’t come as a surprise to those who have been following the story. A recent report from Japan’s Nikkei news outlet claimed the California-based tech firm has been in discussions with up to six automakers about the development of its first-ever vehicle, though it didn’t name the companies.
Notably, sources have suggested that instead of personal ownership, Apple’s debut vehicle would probably be used for delivery and robotaxi services similar to those already being tested by autonomous vehicle specialist Waymo.
True to form, Apple has given little away about its plans for an autonomous electric car, but various auto-related hires, layoffs, and acquisitions in recent years, as well as the recent reports involving Hyundai and Nissan, confirm that it is seriously exploring the idea.
Whatever happens, industry experts have suggested that we’re unlikely to see an Apple Car on the road until 2028 at the earliest.
For more on Apple’s bid to build an electric car, check out this Digital Trends article that brings together everything we know.