OUR VIEW: Kia-Apple partnership an exciting prospect

Published 10:44 am Saturday, February 6, 2021

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By Wednesday night and Thursday morning, we had readers sending us links from national publications, wondering if there was any merit to rumors that Kia and Hyundai might be partnering with Apple to build a self-driving vehicle.

By that point, we’d already seen an article in a Korean newspaper, claiming that the two companies were in discussion to have the vehicle built at Kia’s plant right here in West Point.

But that article provided no sourcing, and without any proof locally, it was difficult for us to write a story.

The situation changed on Wednesday evening when CNBC reported the same information, citing unnamed sources.

And at that point, talk around the water cooler really took off.

Life in Troup County always revolves around Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, the county’s largest employer, but this discussion is arguably the biggest thing that’s happened involving Kia since the company’s Super Bowl commercial was centered around the West Point plant.

For anyone who remembers the commercial, whether the Apple deal happens or not, the secret is apparently getting out about the “The great unknowns,” as Kia coined them.

The employees at KMMG build the Telluride, which was named the World Car of the Year in 2020, and they’ve produced millions of Sorentos and Optimas.

KMMG isn’t just another automotive factory — it’s one of the top-notch facilities in the entire country. People around the industry have taken note of the work produced at KMMG, and they should.

With that in mind, we know Troup County would be a great place for Apple to invest, and we anticipate that it would mean a great deal for the local economy.

But to be completely blunt, the truth is that we, like you, have no idea if KMMG will end up building the Apple car.

If there are any talks ongoing, they could fall through until the last minute.

Typically, when there’s smoke, there’s fire. Hopefully, that’s the case this time.

Local leaders are optimistic, but they say they are as in the dark as the rest of us. KMMG, understandably, said it doesn’t comment on speculation.

Obviously, this type of project would be significant for West Point, Troup County and the surrounding area as a whole.

It would reinforce again that the Interstate 85 corridor between Hyundai and Kia is the southeast’s automotive headquarters.

But who knows? Nothing is definitive right now. Nothing is set in stone. At this point, nothing has been announced publicly, and there’s a chance nothing ever will be.

Here’s what we do know: If Apple wants to produce a car in a hard-working, blue collar town that has shown it can produce award-winning automobiles that have redefined quality in their class, then we’ll put KMMG up against anyone.

The work here speaks for itself.

Our fingers are crossed.