Apple has held talks with Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors about building an electric vehicle, though the discussions paused recently, according to people familiar with the situation.
Apple has also been discussing similar plans with other auto manufacturers, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private matters.
The secret project has ramped up in recent months. It has the potential to upend the automotive industry and its supply chain in a similar way to Apple’s reinvention of the consumer device market.
Apple declined to comment. In January, Hyundai, which owns a controlling stake in Kia, backed away from a statement that said it was in talks with Apple.
That announcement, and other reports of talks, have upset Apple, which keeps development projects secret for years and controls relationships with suppliers with ruthless efficiency.
Kia Motors shares jumped as much as 14.5 percent after a local media report earlier this week that Apple will invest 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) as part of a collaboration with the automaker on making electric vehicles.
It’s unclear if -- or when -- discussions between Apple and Hyundai might resume. There are only a handful of global automakers with the capacity and capability to mass manufacture vehicles, and it is unclear how many of them would be interested in collaborating with Apple.