It looks like Apple won’t use Chinese batteries for its first electric vehicle after all, and is instead looking to Japan.
Reuters reports the American tech giant, which still refuses to publicly confirm its EV project, won’t tap Chinese companies CATL and BYD for batteries.
Sources with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters talks have stalled, with Apple now sending a team to Japan to scope out battery suppliers there.
The sticking point is reportedly CATL and BYD’s refusal to set up teams and build US factories which would exclusively supply Apple.
BYD already has a US plant where it produces its lithium iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries, however it was reportedly unwilling to build a factory to exclusively service Apple.
CATL has no current US battery plants and has no plans to build any, given political tensions between the US and China and cost concerns.
It currently supplies Tesla, among other companies, with batteries.
Apple has reportedly informed both companies in the past two months they don’t meet its requirements, although one source told Reuters it hasn’t ruled out talks resuming.
The tech giant has reportedly expressed interest in LFP batteries as, though they often offer less range and energy density than lithium-ion batteries, they’re cheaper to produce and are less likely to overheat.
The list of potential battery suppliers now includes Panasonic, which manufactures lithium-ion batteries.
The Japanese company was Tesla’s sole battery supplier for several years, though Tesla has recently switched to CATL-supplied LFP batteries for vehicles built in China.
Earlier reports indicated Apple wants to launch its EV by 2024.
The secret project lost its lead, Doug Field, earlier this year. He’s now chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer at Ford.
Field had led the Special Projects Group since 2018. Before that, he was senior vice president for engineering at Tesla, and he started his career at Ford.
Hyundai said earlier this year it wouldn’t build Apple’s car as it reportedly had concerns about being a mere contract manufacturer for Apple rather than a strategic partner.
Recent reports have indicated Apple has since had face-to-face talks with Toyota for it to be involved in some capacity, either as a supplier or as a manufacturer.
In August, The Korea Times reported the American tech giant was in “advanced meetings” with various Korean component manufacturers, including SK Group, Hanwha and LG Electronics, citing an industry source.
The Korean outlet reported earlier this year LG’s joint venture with Magna International, LG Magna e-Powertrain, was firming as the chosen manufacturer for the Apple car.
Magna has previously confirmed it would build vehicles at a plant in North America if it were contracted to do so, while LG and SK Group’s battery arm, SK Innovation, are already operating or have plans to open battery-manufacturing facilities in the US.
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