16 February 2021
UPDATE (February 5th, 2021):
A new report has emerged claiming that Apple is in conversation with at least six Japanese automakers for Apple Car production. It means while the Apple-Kia deal is reportedly getting closer to getting done, there is still a possibility that we might see Apple actually end up signing with some other carmaker.
Original (February 3rd, 2021)
Apple is reportedly ready to make an investment of 4 trillion Won (about $3.6 billion) in Kia Motors to get Apple Car production rolling. The report is coming from DongA Ibo, a South Korean publication, without citing any sources. It adds that a deal between the two parties will be signed in the second half of the month with February 17th being the expected date.
Apple Car production was previously expected to be handled by Hyundai but as discussions have proceeded since then, the latter seems to have decided to handover the responsibility to its subsidiary Kia. Apple is reported to make use of Kia's facility in Georgia, United States for production purposes. The initial target is to produce 100,000 units per year with the ultimate goal of reaching 400,000 units on annual basis.
As one would expect, none of the parties have confirmed these claims. Apple is staying quiet as it usually likes to be but Kia has said that it was "reviewing cooperation on self-driving electric cars with multiple foreign firms." This is not a direct confirmation of the developments but is neither a denial of the claims. It is safe to assume that the two companies are indeed in talks and we should be hearing more reports in the future.
The official Apple Car launch is expected to happen in 2024 or 2025, at least this is what Apple is rumored to be hoping for. We have also heard rumors that it will cost a lot more than other electric cars that it will be competing with. One of the reasons for this is that Apple is currently not targeting a mass audience for its cars.