Since all we have to work with is the rumor mill and the stories that come out of it, it sure does seem like nothing about developing the Apple Car has been easy for Apple. We already know the project has been in development for years, which in itself is not a red flag (most projects of any size take years to develop). But we also know that it has changed quite a bit over time, too, with Apple at point even considering not launching a physical car at all, and focusing solely on software inside. But, as of right now, it appears that Apple is still planning to launch an actual consumer-ready automobile at some point, even as the speed bumps keep lining up.
With the latest update on the matter, Reuters reports that talks with various companies based out of China that are developing batteries for electric vehicles have stalled. Specifically, the report name drops the Chinese companies CATL and BYD, based on information shared with the news outlet by three individuals who will remain anonymous. Those sources say the talks stalled when neither one of the Chinese companies would set up specific teams within their companies to develop for Apple, and that neither company would agree to work out of manufacturing plants in the United States.
The reason why Apple is trying to work with Chinese companies when it comes to battery production, according to Reuters, is that these firms are more advanced in development with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which is the type of battery Apple wants to use in its car. The batteries are cheaper to produce, too.
As for why these firms don’t want to, or can’t, meet Apple’s demands? In the case of CATL, it comes down to political tensions and simply not being able to find the personnel to staff an entirely separate team dedicated to Apple:
CATL, the world’s No.1 maker of batteries for EVs, has been reluctant to build a U.S. factory due to political tensions between Washington and Beijing as well as cost concerns, said one of the people with direct knowledge of the talks.
The Chinese firm has also found it impossible to set up a separate product development team exclusively working with Apple due to difficulties in finding sufficient personnel, the person added.
Interestingly enough, BYD apparently has an iron phosphate factory already stationed in the state of California, however it declined to not only build yet another factory in the U.S., but also to build out a separate team for Apple’s lofty aspirations.
Apple is not giving up, though. The sources said that the company has now sent people to speak with battery makers in Japan.
Previously, it was reported that Apple’s goals for its automobile included prioritizing building batteries in the United States. However, while it wants that to be a major focal point for its first automobile, that will most likely still require a partnership with a company not based in the U.S., for reasons mentioned above. So this report seems to line up with that previous story, with Apple trying to talk these other firms into basically working with Apple on an almost exclusive basis, and going as far as to launch a footprint in the United States if they don’t already have one.
Unfortunately for Apple, it appears those efforts are not going as well as the company probably hoped.