Apple is reportedly planning to tap Tesla battery supplier CATL, among others, as rumors of the tech giant’s electric vehicle project continue to rage on.
Apple, most known for its domination of the tech industry through its expansive list of cell phones, computers, and other devices, has been rumored to be planning an entrance into the electric car industry for several months. Rumors began several months ago when Apple was reportedly working with TSMC for the development of self-driving chips that would help the company work toward an autonomous vehicle. Then, more rumors regarding potential production dates began to circulate, hinting toward 2024, or even 2028 or later, in some cases.
With the increasing number of developments related to Apple’s possible development of an autonomous electric car, speculation continues to grow as well, and more substance continues to be added to the potential story with every development.
Now, a new report from Reuters suggests that Apple is in early-stage talks with CATL and BYD. CATL is the world’s largest battery manufacturer and BYD the fourth-largest.
According to the report, there is no evidence of an agreement between Apple with CATL or BYD, or potentially both battery suppliers. However, Apple is reportedly requesting that the suppliers set up battery supply manufacturing facilities in the United States as a condition of the partnership, sources said. This adds a potential roadblock in CATL’s partnership with Apple, as the company is reluctant to build a new plant in the United States as tensions between the U.S. and China could cause a political issue, plus it could provide an unstable financial situation for CATL.
CATL is a large-scale battery supplier to Tesla and provides cells to the company’s electric vehicles that are produced in China. The two companies have shared a partnership for over a year, and there are no plans for the two to separate. CATL solidified a long-term partnership by announcing that it will build a new 80 MW facility just south of Tesla’s Giga Shanghai production facility.
According to the Reuters report, Apple wants to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries because they are cheaper to produce and do not utilize nickel or cobalt, both of which are more expensive and could drive up costs. Tesla shifted its Standard Range vehicles to an LFP cell, according to Elon Musk, who said that nickel supply was a main concern for Tesla moving forward.
Apple has made no formal announcement regarding its plans to develop an electric vehicle, and it doesn’t seem as if the company is shedding any light on the possibility. Rumors of a partnership with Hyundai also circulated in the EV sector early this year, but talks never went any further.