Apple is reportedly in private discussions over a potential electric-car battery sourcing agreement with two Chinese companies, CATL and BYD, according to a report from Reuters published Tuesday, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.
White House economic advisor Jared Bernstein also confirmed to Reuters that Apple has made U.S. production a condition for potential battery suppliers—perhaps to coordinate with President Biden’s infrastructure push.
BYD is the fourth largest battery maker in the world—after LG, CATL, and Panasonic—and was for several years the top EV producer in the world. It has dedicated its manufacturing expertise to the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cell chemistry that Apple reportedly prefers for its EVs, for their easier, lower-cost supply chain that avoids a deep dependence on nickel and cobalt. BYD introduced its Blade battery pack last year, with a demonstration showing no fire issues after all kinds of abuse.
BYD Han EV
CATL is expanding within China, and while it considered a U.S. plant in 2019, it pivoted to Europe instead due to trade conditions. It boasted last year that it had developed a battery pack that will last 16 years or 1.24 million miles and will offer it to any interested automaker.
Currently it’s supplying some LFP cells to Tesla in China-built Model 3 sedans so that Tesla can free up more of its more energy-dense cells for other purposes, and it’s making lithium-ion cells for the Mercedes EQS, among many other EVs.
Mercedes-Benz EQS will use batteries sourced from CATL
Reuters pointed out that it wasn’t clear whether the Apple talks related to its own battery technology or the use of tech from the suppliers.
The Apple car project has been rumored—and confirmed on, and confirmed off—for much of a decade, with the latest signs of life from the project emerging in December with reports of a new “monocell” design for batteries that would help free up space.