Apple is seeking lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for its much-discussed EV project, but talks with major suppliers BYD and CATL have stalled, Reuters reported Friday.
Talks with the two Chinese firms, which were first confirmed by White House economic advisor Jared Bernstein earlier this year, were halted over Apple's request for dedicated battery factories, according to the report. Both BYD and CATL informed the tech giant within the past two months that they would not be able to do that, the report said, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
Chinese automakers and battery suppliers were early adopters of LFP chemistry, meaning companies in the United States that want to use LFP cells will likely have to partner with Chinese firms.
Tesla is already building Model 3 and Model Y electric cars with LFP batteries for the Chinese market, using cells from CATL. During its recent third-quarter earnings call, the automaker said it plans to begin using LFP chemistry in other markets, and may produce the cells in the U.S.
Rumors of an Apple electric car have circulated for years. Initial reports largely focused on autonomous-driving tech as the car's standout feature, but more recent stories have shifted the focus to battery tech.
BYD Blade battery pack
The latest wave of reporting was kicked off by Reuters in late 2020, with a report that Apple was pursuing a new "monocell" battery design that would incorporate LFP chemistry. This would involve larger individual cells in the battery pack, eliminating the modules used to hold many smaller cells in most current battery-pack designs.
That sounds a bit like BYD's next-generation, specially packaged Blade battery for the Chinese-market Han sedan. BYD has touted increased safety as a feature of this design.
The 2020 Reuters report indicated Apple was aiming to launch its EV by 2024, but the company still needs to find a contract manufacturer. Apple is unlikely to begin manufacturing cars itself, and talks with Hyundai to use sibling brand Kia's Georgia factory reportedly dissolved.