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Nissan says not in talks with Apple on self-driving cars

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The Nissan logo is seen on a car displayed in the showroom of the Nissan Motor global headquarters in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture on February 9, 2021. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Japanese auto maker Nissan said Monday it is not in talks with Apple to develop self-driving cars, a week after Hyundai also denied reports it was discussing the top-secret project with the US tech giant.

Apple’s Project Titan is devoted to electric autonomous vehicles and has been in the works for several years — but details of the venture have been kept under wraps by the notoriously tight-lipped company.

Nissan’s denial came after the Financial Times reported that the iPhone maker had approached it in recent months about a tie-up related to the project, which did not go ahead.

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

A source close to Nissan told AFP that the company “doesn’t need Apple to sell” its cars.

“When you make a product under the Apple brand, you give your soul — and your profit margins — to Apple,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

“We are not interested in giving Apple the best that we offer. This should be under the Nissan brand.”

The denial followed a similar statement from South Korea’s Hyundai and its affiliate Kia last week after reports said Apple had wanted to discuss a potential partnership to develop electric vehicles and batteries.

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Apple first revealed its self-driving tech aspirations in 2016 and Chief Executive Tim Cook later said he saw autonomous driving systems as a “core technology” for the future.

Nissan has been a pioneer in electric vehicles since its Leaf model was released over a decade ago.

But the struggling firm — still trying to recover from the devastating reputational damage caused by the sudden departure of now fugitive tycoon Carlos Ghosn — desperately needs a new hit.

In July, Nissan unveiled the Ariya, a new 100 percent electric crossover model that it said would open a “new era” in the firm’s fortunes.

Monday’s statement caused its shares to fall 2.8 percent to 610 yen.

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