Reveal the early stages of talks secretly conducted by Apple Inc. with two electric car (EV) manufacturers from China: CATL and BYD. This assessment is none other than to ensure the supply of batteries that will be used by Apple’s autonomous electric vehicles, which have been prepared since 2014.
However, four people familiar with the matter said the discussion could still change. It is not yet clear whether an agreement with CATL or BYD will actually be reached or not. There is no confirmation as to whether Apple is also talking to other battery makers.
“Apple has made building manufacturing facilities in the United States a requirement for potential battery suppliers,” the two sources said.
Sources familiar with Apple Car details say the autonomous electric car actually includes Apple’s own breakthrough battery technology. However, it is not yet known whether the discussions with CATL and BYD involve Apple’s own technology or design or not.
“Apple supports the use of lithium iron phosphate batteries which are cheaper to manufacture. They chose to use iron instead of nickel and cobalt which is more expensive,” the source told Reuters.
Apple, which has yet to make a public announcement about its car plans, declined to comment on this news. Likewise, BYD and CATL both rejected Reuters’ requests for confirmation.
Meanwhile, from the Hong Kong Exchange, it was noted that BYD’s shares rose 5.4 percent immediately after news of the collaboration with Apple broke out. Even on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, BYD shares closed up 6.5 percent in late trading Tuesday. The positive sentiment from the development of the Apple Car also made CATL able to reverse the slump in its shares to an increase of 0.5 percent.
APPLE EV Manufacturing
Apple’s confidential discussions with CATL and BYD come after the US government announced its intention to attract more EV manufacturing investors. As reported by the Financial Express, the US President Joe Biden’s proposed jumbo infrastructure budget of US$1.7 trillion for 2022 also includes the electric car industry budget. A total of US$174 billion has been allocated to boost the domestic EV market with tax credit stimulus and grants for battery manufacturers.
Many battery makers ramped up production to meet soaring worldwide demand. Chinese battery makers are also expected to grow faster than their counterparts in other countries. “They are the fastest thanks to the further expansion of the world’s largest EV market,” SNE Research reports.
Meanwhile, CATL is planning a new, larger battery factory in Shanghai. This is for the sake of expansion which will strengthen its position as the number one battery supplier in the world.
Currently CATL supplies batteries to a number of major electric car manufacturers in the world, including Tesla Inc. According to two Reuters sources, the company is still reluctant to build factories in the US because of political tensions between Washington and Beijing and cost issues.
Apple Insider notes, Apple has intensively researched all aspects of engineering and manufacturing its dream electric car. But questions remain about the shape of the Apple Car project and the possibility of the company leveraging their software and chip design expertise.
The Apple Car Project is Back and forth
Apple’s autonomous electric car was previously rumored to be still in early development and could take at least five more years to roll out. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes that the vehicle is unlikely to launch any sooner than 2025.
Moreover, Apple has also reportedly lost several top managers from an internal Apple Car project codenamed “Project Titan”.
Reported by Bloomberg, Dave Scott, who led the Apple Car robotics team, left and chose to become the boss of Hyperfine, the health company that is developing a new generation of MRI systems.
Previously, Jaime Waydo, who leads the safety and regulation team, also chose to become Chief Technology Officer at Cavnue, a startup focused on autonomous car safety on public roads. Also Benjamin Lyon, who is said to be key in the development of future projects, decided to move to Astra, a company that develops technology to send satellites into space.
Since the project started seven years ago, Apple Car work has been rebooted several times, plus various management changes. The Cupertino, California-based company initially planned to build a complete car to rival Tesla. Later, in 2016, Apple chose to focus on autonomous car systems.
Automotive analysts estimate that the Apple Car, which made the public very curious, will not be released until the end of this decade. However, the iPhone maker has been actively recruiting car industry experts to fill the division’s leadership team.
Apple itself has shot up to become the most valuable company in the world, with a market capitalization of more than US$2 trillion, thanks to its smartphones, tablets, personal computers and services. But investors and customers are demanding new categories of devices, especially in the tech and auto industries. In addition to autonomous vehicle technology, Apple is also working on augmented reality and virtual reality headsets, which are planned for release in early 2022.