Nissan not in talks with Apple for car project – report

The Apple car is turning out to be a bit of a hot potato. Nissan has been reported as saying that it has not been in talks with the the tech giant for the joint development of the self-driving electric vehicle, the Financial Times has reported.

The California-based tech firm reportedly approached the Japanese automaker in recent months for its autonomous EV initially codenamed Project Titan, however talks on this project are no longer active, people briefed on this matter told the news site.

Contact between the two companies was brief and did not advance to senior management levels following divisions with regards to branding for Apple’s electric cars, the sources said. This follows failed talks for a tie-up between the tech firm and Hyundai-Kia for the former’s self-driving car project, which was reported last month to be ready for a signing in March.

Before Apple’s rumoured talks with the Korean manufacturers fell through, Hyundai was reportedly handing over Apple car development responsibilities to Kia, as the report speculated that Hyundai wanted to distance itself from the project, like Nissan, for branding concerns. Around this time, the Apple car project was rumoured to adopt the Hyundai E-GMP platform, with future projects involving GM and PSA also rumoured.

The Financial Times cited ‘many carmakers’ expressing fear of being downgraded from automaker to hardware supplier, or becoming “the Foxconn of the auto industry,” referring to the Taiwanese manufacturing group that assembles iPhones. Apple declined to comment, said the news site.

“We have our own customer satisfaction, which comes by car. No way we are going to change the way we make cars. The way we design, develop, and manufacture is going to be as an automotive manufacturer, as Nissan,” said Nissan chief operating officer Sanjay Gupta in an interview with the Financial Times.

Nissan is, however, open to exploring partnerships with tech groups in adapting to the shift towards connected vehicles and autonomous driving, citing collaborations with Google as an example. “We have to check who has got the best competency to catch what the customer is thinking. For this, we can do the partnership, but that is to adapt their services to our product, not vice versa,” Gupta added.

Project Titan was scaled back in 2016 after its first emergence in 2015, and the dismissal of more than 200 personnel was for the firm’s change in direction towards a focus on developing autonomous driving technology instead of a complete vehicle. The project resurfaced last December, with new battery technology touted for a car that was then slated for debut in 2024.

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