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Apple & Kia Could Be Teaming Up

Kia Motors' stock just had its best day in more than two decades after news media in South Korea reported that it was closing in on a major deal with Apple.

The automaker's shares closed up 9.7% in Seoul last Wednesday, reaching $87.70 per share. That's the highest level since 1998. Apple is about to invest $3.6 billion in Kia for a partnership to build a new vehicle.

According to the newspaper, Kia would start producing cars for Apple at its factory in Georgia, with an initial target of 100,000 cars per year. That capacity could ramp up to 400,000 annually.

A deal could be signed as soon as February 17, with the goal of rolling out Apple cars by 2024. Speculation about Apple's interest in working with the South Korean auto industry has been ramping up lately. Last month, Hyundai was reported to be in discussions with the iPhone maker to develop electric cars. The news at the time also propelled Hyundai's shares to their best day in at least two decades. Hyundai has previously said that it was "receiving proposals for cooperation from various companies, but no decision has been made yet." If the deal materializes, Apple's multibillion-dollar investment would go toward manufacturing and development of the new car. A collaboration with the South Korean giant could make a lot of sense. Of all the automakers, Hyundai has been among the most open to joining forces with other companies and even tech firms. Beyond its ownership of Kia, Hyundai is also working with Chinese search giant Baidu and U.S. chipmaker Nvidia on autonomous driving. The large number of existing partnerships could make the company a more appealing partner to Apple. Hyundai has also made significant strides on next-generation vehicles, including hydrogen fuel-cell cars and an electric vehicle manufacturing platform it unveiled in December. Apple may also choose to enter multiple partnerships, with analysts floating other major carmakers as potential options.

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