Report: Apple Car Suffers Another Setback

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Following several months of news that Apple Inc. was in talks with battery suppliers to set the company up with the necessary hardware and know-how to manufacture electric vehicles, it looks like the iPhone purveyor is back to square one. Reports have emerged claiming the discussions with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) and BYD have stalled.

While the tech giant is said to be keeping a channel open, companies informed Apple over the last two months that they would not be willing to establish teams and U.S. facilities catering exclusively to its needs. While Japan’s Panasonic is still in the mix as a potential partner, it’s looking like the other companies are bowing out. Reasons are said to vary, however, political tensions between the U.S. and China are alleged to be a contributing factor. 

According to Reuters, CATL has been hesitant to build factories inside the United States in general. Growing political turmoil between Washington and Beijing has made foreign entities hesitant to strengthen their industrial ties in both countries. Sources claimed that Apple’s specific requirements turned out to be more than either Chinese wanted to contend with.

From Reuters:

[CATL] 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.

BYD, which has an iron-phosphate battery plant in Lancaster, Calif., declined to build a new factory and team that would solely focus on supplying Apple, said two of the sources.

The stalled discussions have meant that Apple has been considering Japanese battery makers and it sent a group of people to Japan this month, they added.

Panasonic Corp. is one of the companies that Apple is considering, said one of the people.

As the negotiations are supposed to be confidential, everyone is keeping their lips sealed. But representatives from CATL said the company was still weighing its options and had not made any final decisions regarding an increased involvement with the United States. That presumably means there’s still a chance for Apple to make a deal, though it would be at odds with what clandestine sources have been telling Reuters.

“We are evaluating the opportunity and possibility of manufacture localization in North America,” the battery company stated, adding that it has professional teams dedicated for each customer.

Our advice is to not hold your breath on the hypothetical iCar. I’ve literally been writing about how Apple’s automotive implements since 2016 and it never seems to make any real headway. Project Titan has been delayed, canceled, and then relaunched so many times that it’s really not even worth getting your hopes up until there’s a working prototype. The tech giant’s change in preference from having other entities do the brunt of its manufacturing has likewise complicated the issue to a point where it might have to forget about partnering with the Chinese altogether.

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