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Apple in talks with CATL, BYD over battery supplies for its electric car

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Apple Inc is in early-stage talks with China's CATL and BYD about the supply of batteries for its planned electric vehicle, four people with knowledge of the matter said.

The discussions are subject to change and it is not clear if agreements with either CATL or BYD will be reached, said the people who declined to be named as the discussions are private.

Apple has made building manufacturing facilities in the United States a condition for potential battery suppliers, said two of the sources.

CATL, which supplies major car makers including Tesla Inc, is reluctant to build a U.S. factory due to political tensions between Washington and Beijing as well as cost concerns, the two people said.

It was not immediately clear if Apple is also talking to other battery makers.

Apple, which has yet to make a public announcement about its car plans, declined to comment. CATL, the world's biggest automotive battery maker, and BYD, the world's No. 4, also declined to comment.

The U.S. firm is in favor of using lithium iron phosphate batteries that are cheaper to produce because they use iron instead of nickel and cobalt which are more expensive, the four people said.

Apple has been working on self-driving technology and has targeted 2024 for the production of a passenger vehicle, Reuters reported in December.

People familiar with the matter have previously said Apple's planned EV could include its own breakthrough battery technology. It was not immediately clear if the discussions with CATL and BYD involved Apple's own technology or designs.

The discussions come at a time when the U.S. government is looking to attract more EV manufacturing. U.S. President Joe Biden's proposed $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan includes a$174 billion budget to boost the domestic EV market with tax credits and grants for battery manufacturers, among other incentives.

Many battery makers are ramping up production to meet soaring worldwide demand as car makers accelerate their shift to electric vehicles to comply with tougher emission rules aimed at tackling global warming.

Chinese battery makers are expected to grow at a faster pace than their foreign peers thanks to further expansion of the world's biggest EV market, SNE Research said in a June report.

Reuters reported last week that CATL is planning a major new automotive battery plant in Shanghai, continuing a blistering pace of expansion that will cement its lead as the world's No.1 supplier. The factory would near Tesla's China manufacturing operations.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

5 Comments
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What would Apple be without China? They're simply codependent no matter how much harm they do th the world...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What would Apple be without China? They're simply codependent no matter how much harm they do th the world...

It's true, and not just for Apple. China is responsible for a significant portion of the world's production. If they say no, the rest of the world suffers. The problem is that they are like Amazon - they got so big, that everyone else got wiped out. So there isn't anyone to compete with China realistically.

It's a real pickle.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The discussions are subject to change and it is not clear if agreements with either CATL or BYD will be reached

So in other words, this is all just scepticism based on the premise that "China is the biggest car battery market" because it has the biggest market. Nothing is ever said about the quality of that market, its lack of standards or willingness to try untested and downright dangerous products rushed to market without any semblance of stolen Japanese or European R&D applied.

But the talks themselves are bound to be extremely short, given the overabundance of evidence of Chinese batteries exploding into a ball of flames in people's faces holding their phones, while they're driving their cars/buses, while they're charging 12V batteries in their homes and burning the entire apartment block down.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lithium iron phosphate, isn't that the new battery that is supposed to last the life of the EV, and be cheaper than what is being used now?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@1glenn

Lithium iron phosphate, isn't that the new battery that is supposed to last the life of the EV

Lithium Iron Phosphate is un-competitive due to heavier weight and lower energy density.

The requirement that the vendor build a factory in the US limits Apple's options, since the only mass-volume battery manufacturers with US plants are Panasonic, LG, and SK.

Out of three Panasonic is a non-starter, even its sole customer Tesla's trying to move away from it.

So Apple's options are LG and SK, back to square one.

Apple actually chose SK battery when it was negotiating a US build of its Apple Car on top of Hyundai's e-GMP platform at Kia's US factory. Apple's only other platform provider option is Volkswagen, which uses SK battery for its EVs.

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