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Nissan says it is not in talks with Apple over autonomous car project

Nissan Motor said on Monday it is not discussing with Apple Inc, after a report that the iPhone company approached the Japanese automaker in recent months regarding a tie-up for its autonomous car project.

The Financial Times said the companies had had brief discussions that faltered over the automakers’ reluctance to become an assembler for Apple-branded cars, adding that the discussions had not advanced to senior management level.

“We are not in talks with Apple,” a Nissan spokeswoman said. “However, Nissan is always open to exploring collaborations and partnerships to accelerate industry transformation.”

The spokeswoman refused to discuss further. Representatives for Apple were not immediately available for comment.

Early stage talks between Apple and Hyundai Motor over autonomous electric vehicles also collapsed earlier on concerns within the South Korean automaker about becoming a mere contract manufacturer.

It has been frequently reported since the last year that Apple was moving forward with autonomous car technology and intended to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology as early as 2024.

Outsourcing production of some models through original equipment manufacturing (OEM) deals is common in the automotive industry, but the industry does not have a significant contract manufacturer in the way that Taiwan’s Foxconn serves the consumer electronics industry.

This year, however, Chinese automaker Geely has announced a flurry of tie-ups including one with Foxconn and another with Chinese company Baidu Inc as it seeks to position itself as the go-to contract manufacturer for electric vehicles in China.

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