Nissan has denied holding talks with Apple about partnering with the tech giant to build autonomous cars

Tim Cook Apple Park speech
CEO Tim Cook at Park in California. Apple

Nissan has denied reports that it has been in discussions with Apple over manufacturing the tech giant’s autonomous vehicles. 

“We have not held talks with Apple,” a Nissan Motor Corporation spokesperson told Insider on Wednesday. 

On Monday, The Financial Times reported that the two companies had broken off discussions after they disagreed over branding. According to the report, Apple approached Nissan but the talks were halted before discussions reached senior managers.

The news comes after Hyundai and its affiliate Kia denied being in talks with Apple over the vehicle. In January, local reports in South Korea had said Hyundai was nearing a deal with Apple, with a plan to build a “beta” version of a vehicle as soon as 2022. Reports at the time said the deal could lead to full-scale production in the US by 2024.

At the end of January, however, Reuters reported Hyundai executives were wary of partnering with Apple to make electric vehicles.

“We are not a company which manufactures cars for others,” an executive at Hyundai reportedly told Reuters at the time. “It is not like working with Apple would always produce great results.”

The FT reported on Monday that the discussions between Apple and Nissan collapsed because Apple wanted Apple-branded vehicles, which would’ve effectively downgraded Nissan’s role to just a hardware supplier. 

“No way we are going to change the way we make cars,” Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer, told the FT

On Tuesday, another Nissan executive had also denied the discussions, according to Forbes. Speaking to reporters at a virtual event for the Automotive Press Association, Michael Colleran, Nissan’s senior vice president for marketing and sales, reportedly said: “We’re not in any discussions with Apple.”

A Nissan spokesperson on Wednesday said the company wasn’t ruling out future talks with collaborators.  

“However, Nissan is always open to exploring collaborations and partnerships to accelerate industry transformation,” the spokesperson said. 

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.