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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Hyundai is in preliminary talks with Apple about the tech giant's mysterious plan to develop self-driving electric cars, per reports in CNBC and Bloomberg.

Driving the news: "We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided," a Hyundai rep tells CNBC.

Why it matters: It's another sign that Apple, which first launched its auto tech program years ago, may indeed have products on the market later this decade.

  • And while the world is bursting with electric vehicle and autonomous driving startups, not to mention legacy automakers' plans, Apple's financial and engineering power would make it an important player.

Quick take: It shows how new entrants into the EV and self-driving space, even with insanely deep pockets like Apple, would benefit from working with established automakers to achieve launch velocity.

The intrigue: Hyundai, in a separate statement last night, declined to name-check Apple again.

  • “We’ve been receiving requests for potential cooperation from various companies regarding development of autonomous EVs. No decisions have been made as discussions are in early stage," the automaker said.

What they're saying: Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives sees a 35%–40% chance of Apple unveiling its own car by 2024.

  • He cited the mix of "Herculean-like auto production capabilities, battery technology ramp, financial model implications, and regulatory hurdles" involved.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

14 mins ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.