By on October 22, 2021

Following several months of news that Apple Inc. was in talks with battery suppliers to set the company up with the necessary hardware and know-how to manufacture electric vehicles, it looks like the iPhone purveyor is back to square one. Reports have emerged claiming the discussions with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) and BYD have stalled.

While the tech giant is said to be keeping a channel open, companies informed Apple over the last two months that they would not be willing to establish teams and U.S. facilities catering exclusively to its needs. While Japan’s Panasonic is still in the mix as a potential partner, it’s looking like the other companies are bowing out. Reasons are said to vary, however, political tensions between the U.S. and China are alleged to be a contributing factor. 

According to Reuters, CATL has been hesitant to build factories inside the United States in general. Growing political turmoil between Washington and Beijing has made foreign entities hesitant to strengthen their industrial ties in both countries. Sources claimed that Apple’s specific requirements turned out to be more than either Chinese wanted to contend with.

From Reuters:

[CATL] has also found it impossible to set up a separate product development team exclusively working with Apple due to difficulties in finding sufficient personnel, the person added.

BYD, which has an iron-phosphate battery plant in Lancaster, Calif., declined to build a new factory and team that would solely focus on supplying Apple, said two of the sources.

The stalled discussions have meant that Apple has been considering Japanese battery makers and it sent a group of people to Japan this month, they added.

Panasonic Corp. is one of the companies that Apple is considering, said one of the people.

As the negotiations are supposed to be confidential, everyone is keeping their lips sealed. But representatives from CATL said the company was still weighing its options and had not made any final decisions regarding an increased involvement with the United States. That presumably means there’s still a chance for Apple to make a deal, though it would be at odds with what clandestine sources have been telling Reuters.

“We are evaluating the opportunity and possibility of manufacture localization in North America,” the battery company stated, adding that it has professional teams dedicated for each customer.

Our advice is to not hold your breath on the hypothetical iCar. I’ve literally been writing about how Apple’s automotive implements since 2016 and it never seems to make any real headway. Project Titan has been delayed, canceled, and then relaunched so many times that it’s really not even worth getting your hopes up until there’s a working prototype. The tech giant’s change in preference from having other entities do the brunt of its manufacturing has likewise complicated the issue to a point where it might have to forget about partnering with the Chinese altogether.

[Image: withGod/Shutterstock]

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14 Comments on “Report: Apple Car Suffers Another Setback...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    First, Apple is not going to enter the car mfg business.

    Second, why would these companies dedicate a whole, expensive plant to a ‘maybe’ car mfr with less certainty than Lucid, for example? All of Apple’s car plans are vaporware.

    It’s laughable how reality blocked Apple’s ego, and how many people think that titans like Apple can just will their latest dreams into being.

    Tesla, on the other hand, seems to have committed to buy LFP batteries from BYD for its standard-range cars, but they will probably be made in China. Their recent CATL-equipped standard-range Model 3s helped them meet their record-breaking Q3 production numbers.

    I can’t see those suppliers embarking on a special project for Apple when they already have Tesla as a real customer, among others.

  • avatar

    If Apple wants to get involved in transportation, they’d be better off going after the E-Bike and scooter market. Maybe motorcycles too. It seems to be a better fit for them. If they were to build a car, it would probably be 10 years before they could get something in production.

  • avatar

    “Siri, drive me to the airport”
    “… calculating route to nearest Starbucks…”

  • avatar

    Apple should simply buy and establish car maker like JLR or the struggling Ssangyong. These companies know not only how to build, design and manufacture cars, they also manage highly complex logistics operations. In the case of Ssangyong they could very quickly stop making their current rubbish and make and apple branded car. In the case of JLR they would get a small but established car maker with which to test their tech before getting JLR to set up new production facilities for them. Maybe in fact they could do worse than buy both companies. Ask Elon Musk how hard this stuff is. He’d probably tell them to do this

  • avatar

    Apple is not used to actually making it’s own products, so they are trying to replicate that model with cars. But cars are a much bigger investment than phones, so I can see why manufacturers are hesitant to sign up. Apple is going to have to come out of pocket and pay for the factory, or at least guarantee to buy a certain number of units.

  • avatar

    The Apple business plan of buying something for $50 each from outside supplier(s) and selling it for $1500 or more is foundering when it comes to cars. Why, they think, can’t the world just get off its collective peepot and realize that electric cars can be made for $1378.54 apiece by chained slaves and sold for $75K at Genius Stores staffed by faux-nerds? Apple knows the answer — all those would-be contracting companies out there want to keep the margins for themselves! It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya! Apple has the copyright on greedy, and nobody else can legally horn in.

    The only thing I’d like to see is the exterior of an Applecart. Their aesthetic design is good, and lord knows the state of vehicle styling and design these days is lower than pathetic. An Applepod/Applecart Siri GT might well be cute and adorable.

    • 0 avatar

      An Applecart (very clever of you, by the way) could be an electrified, high-tech shopping trolley that rings up your purchases as you put them in. To the annoyance of shoppers, it would constantly run commercials and run ads for suggested items and add-on purchases.
      The Applecart would have built-in GPS and a tracking system prevent drug-addicted homeless freaks from stealing them.

  • avatar

    Apple missed the message from Richard Branson – if you want to be a millionaire, invest a billion of dollars and start the airline

  • avatar

    Apple will not go into the car business for the same reason Tesla won’t start making smartphones.

  • avatar

    I’m really excited to see this progress! I’m particularly excited to see how Apple invents its own subatomic particle since obviously their vehicle can’t run on just any old electron.

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