Nissan Denies Talks With Apple Over Autonomous Car Venture – Report

Nissan said on Monday that it is not in discussions with Apple Inc. for a tie-up regarding the iPhone maker’s autonomous car project, Reuters has learnt.

A Nissan spokesperson told Reuters, “We are not in talks with Apple. However, Nissan is always open to exploring collaborations and partnerships to accelerate industry transformation.”

The comments come following a Financial Times report that Apple (AAPL) had approached the Japanese automaker in recent months. Apple held talks with Nissan that stalled over the automaker’s reluctance to assemble Apple-branded cars. According to the FT report, the discussions did not advance to senior management levels.

Earlier this month, Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors also denied that they were in discussions to partner with Apple for the development of autonomous vehicles following media reports that the preliminary talks with Apple, which had been initially confirmed in Jan., had been paused.

Apple is reportedly seeking to build a vehicle for consumers and has a goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market in contrast to rivals such as Alphabet (GOOGL) Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service. (See Apple stock analysis on TipRanks)

Earlier this month, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, who has a Buy rating on the stock with a $175 price target, argued that now the question is “when not if” Apple will enter the EV race over the next few years.

“While the timing of an EV partnership with the likes of Hyundai, or another automaker, remains a key focus of the Street and EV industry over the coming months we assign a 85%+ chance that Apple will announce an EV partnership/collaboration over the next 3 to 6 months,” Ives wrote in a note to investors.

“With US auto stalwarts GM and Ford announcing very aggressive EV endeavors over the past few weeks and a Biden-driven green tidal wave on the horizon, we believe now is the time for Apple to dive into the deep end of the pool on the EV front.”

“Apple with the right partner would be a major force in the EV industry and could disrupt market share from the likes of Tesla, GM, Ford if the company is able to get the Apple Car on the road by 2024,” the analyst summed up.

The rest of the Street is cautiously optimistic about the stock with a Moderate Buy rating. That’s based on 20 analysts suggesting a Buy, 5 analysts recommending a Hold, and 2 analysts suggesting a Sell. The average analyst price target of $150.52 implies 11.2% upside potential to current levels.

According to the TipRanks Smart Score system, Apple scores a 9 out of 10, indicating that the stock has a high likelihood of outperforming the market.

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