Apple's electric car dreams veer off track as battery talks flounder

·2 min read
Apple
Apple

Apple’s dreams of building an electric car have been thrown off course as talks with its battery suppliers threaten to fall apart.

The Silicon Valley company, which has spent years developing automotive technology, has run into problems over securing batteries for its electric vehicles.

Apple has been attempting to encourage Chinese battery makers CATL, the world’s number one supplier of EV batteries, and BYD to set up production facilities in the US, but so far these talks have not progressed, Reuters reported.

President Joe Biden has ambitions to make the US a powerhouse in electric cars and wants half of all new vehicles to be electric by 2030.

However, the targets risk being thwarted as the country battles supply chain chaos that has caused widespread delays in the delivery of goods.

The battery makers working with Apple are said to be struggling to find sufficient staff and expertise, and were not willing to build factories in the US that would cater solely on supplying Apple.

Apple had hoped to secure a domestic supply of lithium iron phosphate batteries from one of the companies. CATL said it was “evaluating the opportunity and possibility” of manufacturing in the US.

Panasonic, the Japanese technology company, is also said to be among the frontrunners to develop Apple’s electric batteries.

It is the latest setback for Apple’s car project, which has been in the works for years as part of an internal team known as Project Titan. Reuters reported earlier this year that Apple’s plans had accelerated, with a view to launching an Apple car in 2024 or 2025.

However, the project has suffered several bumps in the road. In September, it was reported that Doug Field, the head of the project, had been snapped up by Ford.

In 2019, Apple laid off 190 employees understood to be working on its self-driving car programme.

Public data on autonomous car tests on California’s roads also showed that Apple’s cars “disengaged”, meaning a safety driver had to take control of the car, far more frequently than the market leader.

It also drove just 7,544 miles in 2019, a decline of 90pc in the previous year. The reports show it had 70 registered driverless cars on the roads of the Bay Area.

Talks with carmakers have also come to nothing. Preliminary discussions between Apple and Nissan collapsed in February after the tech firm reportedly demanded Apple-branded vehicles, effectively downgrading Nissan’s role to a hardware supplier.

Despite the slow progress on developing a car, Apple’s shares have risen by 15pc this year, leaving it worth just under $2.5tn.

Meanwhile, Tesla shares hit a new record high on Friday, taking Elon Musk's electric car maker a step closer to joining the elite group of companies valued at $1 trillion.

Shares were trading at just over $900, leaving the company worth almost $900bn - close to Facebook's $917bn valuation.

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