The Apple Car rumor just took a more interesting twist with news that Samsung is acquiring Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. for an undisclosed sum.
Samsung SDI, the South Korean firm’s material and energy solution providing arm, itself confirmed the acquisition in a media release Monday, saying it was acquiring Magna International’s battery pack unit.
Magna, which has its headquarters in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, sells its vehicle battery technology to Tesla and other car makers and has recently been linked to Apple’s secret electric car project.
The transaction is expected to close during the first half of 2015, pending customary approvals.
All 264 employees of Magna International, including its production and development sites and existing business contracts, will be owned by Samsung SDI. The deal will bolster Samsung SDI’s prowess in automotive batteries.
Specifically, the acquisition will “enhance Samsung SDI’s capabilities in batteries for electric vehicles” by marrying its expertise in battery cells and modules to Magna’s experience in battery packs, reads the release.
What’s that got to do with Apple?
Well, in detailing the Cupertino firm’s alleged electric car research dubbed Project Titan, The Wall Street Journal said last week that Apple executives had flown to Austria to meet with contract manufacturers for high-end cars, “including the Magna Steyr unit of Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc.”
Another lead came into light with this morning’s claim that Apple’s been offering raises and competitive benefits to lure Samsung’s expert who specialize in ”next-generation technology” related to battery packs for electric vehicles.
Surprisingly, The Korea Times newspaper, which published the article, quoted unnamed Samsung executives who say Samsung will actually strengthen its strategic partnership with Apple “in futuristic business projects, as they need each other,” despite Apple poaching Samsung SDI’s experts.
“As the electric vehicle business is a new one, Apple needs patents and experts in battery technology. Top human resources firms have been approaching Samsung’s battery experts, individually, and I think such human exchange moves are a win-win for both,” said one unnamed official.
Whether Samsung’s Magna move signals the Galaxy maker is working on its own electric car or if it’s simply an indication that the firm will continue providing battery packs to car vendors, possibly including Apple, is anyone’s guess at this point.
For what it’s worth, President and CEO of Samsung SDI, Namseong Cho, called the Magna deal “a key strategic step” for the company which will help “expand our business and customer base.”
Research firms B3 and IHS estimate that the global market for electric vehicles, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, will reach 7.7 million car units by 2020 versus just 2.1 million vehicles shipped in 2014.
Samsung SDI is one of the few major battery suppliers of BMW and other leading car makers.