Economy|Automotive Industry
iCar? Apple eyes ‘next level’ battery tech for electric vehicles
Apple is targeting 2024 to produce an electric car that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, Reuters reports.
Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road, sources told the Reuters news agency [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]
21 Dec 2020
Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency.
The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.
Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.
Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a third person who has seen Apple’s battery design.
Apple declined to comment on its plans or future products.
Making a vehicle represents a supply chain challenge even for Apple, a company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronic products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car. It took Elon Musk’s Tesla 17 years before it finally turned a sustained profit making cars.
“If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone,” said a person who worked on Project Titan.
It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added.
Two people with knowledge of Apple’s plans warned pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.
Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road, two people familiar with the company’s plans said.
Apple’s car might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances, another person said. Some sensors could be derived from Apple’s internally developed lidar units, that person said. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models released this year both feature lidar sensors.
Reuters had previously reported Apple had held talks with potential lidar suppliers, but it was also examining building its own sensor.
As for the car’s battery, Apple plans to use a unique “monocell” design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials, one of the people said.
Apple’s design means more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a potentially longer range. Apple is also examining chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, the person said, which is inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.
”It’s next level,” the person said of Apple’s battery technology. “Like the first time you saw the iPhone.”
Apple had previously engaged Magna International Inc in talks about manufacturing a car, but the talks petered out as Apple’s plans became unclear, a person familiar with those previous efforts said. Magna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
To turn a profit, automotive contract manufacturers often ask for volumes that could pose a challenge even to Apple, which would be a newcomer to the automotive market.
“In order to have a viable assembly plant, you need 100,000 vehicles annually, with more volume to come,” the person said.
US automaker GM recalls 69,000 electric cars after battery fires
GM says it doesn’t yet know what caused fires in five Chevrolet Bolt batteries but its engineers are investigating.
13 Nov 2020
China-made Tesla electric cars to start selling in Europe
US-based electric carmaker says it will start shipping entry-level Model 3 from Shanghai factory to Europe this month.
20 Oct 2020
US stocks mixed as Nike sets record, Tesla fails to lift
J&J shares trading higher after drug giant announced it has entered phase 3 trials for its potential COVID-19 vaccine.
23 Sep 2020
From: NewsFeed
Tesla fan can’t wait, builds his own Cybertruck
A Bosnian Tesla fan could not wait for Tesla to release its Cybertruck, so he came up with his own version.
14 Sep 2020
Bitcoin hovers near six-month high on ETF hopes
Apple employee, who was vocal on discrimination, fired
Fire at Kuwait oil refinery under control, injuries reported
Thousands protest in El Salvador against Bukele government
Two Hindu men killed, temples vandalised in Bangladesh violence
Inside Nigeria’s unregulated human egg industry
With ‘streets as courtrooms’, Afghan female judges go into hiding
Shooting in Syria could mark new phase in Israeli campaign
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2021 Al Jazeera Media Network