Apple Car Seeking Friendship in South Korea

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Apple has been in the headlines all week over changes to its policy that is introducing a image detection system that effectively allows the company to scan the iCloud to see if you have any illegal photos on there. While framed primarily as a way for the company to root out pedophilia, it’s gotten the company in trouble with an increasingly privacy savvy public that’s convinced the next step is generalized surveillance. But while the technology company has been busy trying to improve optics, issuing assurances that its new security protocols won’t overlap with government action and claims that its actions are no worse than what its chief rivals are already doing, the latest on the Apple Car is going unaddressed.

The off-and-on-again vehicle program is reportedly making moves with South Korean suppliers to ensure its got a lock on components. Curious, considering we were under the impression that the automobile was nowhere near completion.

The most forgiving of estimates places Apple manufacturing an actual car sometime in 2024. But we’ve heard from the company that it planned on commencing production as far back as 2019. This has made predictive timelines totally useless. Though that’s something that’s no less true for most other tech firms vying to produce vehicle and the main reason we have to go over reports with the maximum level of skepticism this black heart can muster.

According to the Korea Times, Apple has made contact with multiple suppliers necessary to build its iCar without the need for it to have manufacturing facilities of its own. It’s on par with the company’s current strategy, which is already heavily dependent upon a seamless global supply chain. There have likewise been rolling reports that the company would outsource as much vehicle production as it could, should it make the leap to automobiles.

“Apple officials have been in Korea for business talks with its Korean partners in the semiconductor and display sectors. As seen in Apple’s smartphone business, the company is seeking business partners in Korea for its EV business,” a senior industry executive directly involved with the issue told the outlet.

Without partnerships with Korean vendors, Apple won’t be able to complete its EV business plan. As far as I know, Apple has talked with LG, SK and Hanwha, but the talks are still in the early stages.”

Those meetings were said to be specifically about automotive production and battery supply. Interestingly, neither LG Chem or SK Innovation felt comfortable confirming or denying executives had met with Apple. But it makes sense that Apple would be attempting to distance itself from the increasingly unstable geopolitical situation focused around China without abandoning its established Asian supply networks. There also aren’t too many other regions where one could reliably source a glut of batteries every year. But the company’s choice in power sources could ultimately dictate China’s level of involvement.

From Korea Times:

Apple is considering using a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery, which is less likely to overheat and is therefore safer, compared to lithium-ion batteries, which most Korean battery makers are currently manufacturing.

Made of lithium and iron phosphate, LFP batteries show weaker performances at colder temperatures than lithium-ion batteries, but they cost less. In the LFP battery business, mainland Chinese makers take the lead, as there are no Korean makers producing the batteries.

Given the fact that Korean battery firms don’t produce LFP batteries and mainland Chinese battery makers are at the forefront of the LFP battery business, industry views are that Apple is likely to use LFP batteries from these Chinese vendors. According to China Automotive Battery Research Institute, Chinese battery makers such as CATL and BYD provided LFP batteries amounting to 30.8 gigawatt-hours last year, which accounted for 47 percent of the entire EV battery market.

Of course, the situation could be totally different by the time Apple finally gets around to manufacturing the iCar. With the vehicle’s development already several years behind schedule and program cancellations being as common as reboots, we might not see a physical product until well after 2025. By then, the United States might be producing batteries in meaningful volumes — including the lithium iron phosphate units it’s rumored to be seeking.

[Image: withGod/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 11, 2021

    Apple lost approximately 72.879% of its mojo when it lost Steve Jobs. Look for these features 14 months after this vehicle [eventually] launches: • Best Tools for Opening Factory-Sealed Hood of Apple Car • Best Software for Jailbreaking Apple Car OS (Will Apple change the charging cord design every 37 months?)

    • See 1 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 12, 2021

      @FreedMike Zero new innovations... although maybe that's a good thing since their "phone" has completely destroyed society and their MacBook despite only being 6.7% market share has ruined laptop computing.

  • Akear Akear on Aug 12, 2021

    Apple won't produce an electric car for the same reason Tesla won't produce a smartphone. Tesla has such a big lead in EV development why even bother. GM and Nissan are barely competitive with Tesla when it comes to EVs.

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Aug 12, 2021

      Apple won't produce a car because anyone who looks at the profit margin on there current offerings compared to even a best case scenario on an automobile would run away.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
  • ToolGuy I agree with everyone here. Of course there are exceptions to what I just said, don't take everything so literally. The important thing is that I weighed in with my opinion, which is helping to move things forward. I believe we can all agree that I make an important contribution (some will differ, that is their prerogative). A stitch in time saves nine. Life isn't fair, you know. I have more to say but will continue at our next meeting. You can count on that, for I am a man of my word. We will make it happen. There might be challenges. I mean, it is what it is. This too shall pass. All we can do is all we can do. These meetings are never really long enough for me to completely express all the greatness within me, are they? Let's meet to discuss. All in a day's work. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. At the end of the day, I must say I agree with you. I think you will agree. When all is said and done, there is more said than done. But of course that is just one man's opinion. You are free to disagree. As I like to say...(I am working on my middle management skills -- how am I doing?)
  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
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