Last year, Apple was rumored to be working on an autonomous all-electric car codenamed ‘Project Titan’. The company later confirmed development work on an autonomous driving platform and CEO Tim Cook even referred to it as “a core technology” for the company, but it showed signs of giving up on developing an actual car.
But now Apple is reportedly working on electric car batteries with China’s biggest battery maker.
Today, China’s Yicai Global reported that CATL, China’s largest automotive battery maker, is working with Apple on a confidential project:
“The Cupertino-based tech titan is working with Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL), a battery manufacturer in China’s Fujian province, on a scheme based on a confidentiality agreement. The parties are working together in the field of batteries, sources involved with the cooperation said.”
Neither Apple or CATL commented on the report.
If true, it would mean that Apple’s Project Titan could be working more toward a fully electric car and not just a self-driving system that can be integrated into other vehicles, like what Alphabet’s Waymo is doing with other automakers.
Apple partnering with CATL would be a significant development for the project since battery production is often seen as a bottleneck in the electric vehicle industry and that’s a problem the company is trying to solve.
CATL tripled its lithium-ion battery production last year and plans to reach 50 GWh by 2020, which would make it the second biggest li-ion battery producer in the world behind Tesla/Panasonic if they all manage to deliver on production goals.
If Apple wants to get into electric cars in a big way, CATL is among only a handful of potential partners that can make it happen on the battery front. Apple is already a big battery consumer due to its iPhones and MacBooks, but electric cars are on a completely different scale. One Tesla Model S represents roughly the same battery demand as 4,000 iPhones.
CATL’s batteries, which are primarily using LiFePo and NCM chemistries in prismatic cell formats, have been mostly going to electric bus production, but they recently signed a supply contract with SAAB successor National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) in order to enable the production of hundreds of thousands of electric cars per year.
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