The Apple Car was unsurprisingly absent from the WWDC 2021 keynote this week, but it’s still not forgotten. The latest we’re hearing is that Apple is reportedly in negotiations with Chinese battery makers to supply the power cells for Apple's first-ever electric car.
That’s according to a new report from Reuters (opens in new tab), claiming Apple is talking to CATL and BYD. But there is a catch, and it seems Apple wants the batteries to be built in the U.S.
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For those that don’t know, CATL is the world’s largest supplier of EV batteries, and currently supplies the batteries to some of the world’s largest electric carmakers, including Tesla, BMW, and Hyundai. BYD is the fourth-biggest, and partnered with Toyota last year to develop electric cars that appeal to drivers.
Reuters’ four sources, who asked not to be named, stressed that talks are still annoying. Discussions are still subject to change, and there’s no guarantee that the talks will be a success.
And Apple’s condition that batteries should be manufactured in the U.S. may well kill hopes of partnering with CATL. The company is reportedly hesitant to build a factory in the U.S. due to the ongoing political tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments.
The Apple Car has been rumored for several years at this point, but there have been a considerable number of reports about the car’s development this year. Apple was allegedly in talks with Hynudai and Kia to have one of the two companies manufacture the Apple Car. Unfortunately, those talks reportedly broke down after news of the negotiations went public.
While Apple reportedly spoke to a number of automakers, a number of them expressed concern about giving Apple so much control, and fears that they might become “the Foxconn of the auto industry” — a reference to the Taiwanese company that manufactures the iPhone. Later it was reported that LG and Canadian auto-parts maker Magna were close to signing a deal to manufacture the Apple Car.
Apple has never publicly commented on the Apple Car, and declined to offer comment to Reuters’ report.
According to various reports. the Apple Car is set to be a fully-autonomous driving car and an all-electric vehicle. Rumors claim Apple is set to offer a monocell battery design, to help improve range and safety. The battery itself is also said to utilize lithium iron phosphate, because it’s cheaper to produce than batteries made from nickel or cobalt.
Without suppliers for key components like batteries, it means we’re still quite a way from seeing the Apple Car on American roads. But the fact that Apple is trying to iron out these deals suggests there's some progress being made.
Some reports have claimed the Apple Car may arrive by 2024, though that seems fairly optimistic and will all depend on how successful Apple is in dealing with its various suppliers. While Apple has had great success in managing the supply chain of its other products, a car is more complex than an iPhone. So we’ll have to see what happens, and if suppliers are willing to agree to Apple’s demands.
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