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.
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