Apple would launch its car, the Apple Car (its exact name is still unknown) in 2024. The firm is said to be developing a “revolutionary” monobloc battery, based on LFP Lithium-Iron-Phosphate technology. A source familiar with the matter indicates that this technology would reduce the cost of manufacture while making the vehicle significantly safer.
We have been talking about the Apple Car for some time. The firm has been interested in electric cars since at least 2014. Apple is not the only outsider in the automotive industry to want to get started: we are thinking in particular of Sony, which has already unveiled a prototype electric car. But according to a report picked up by the Reuters news agency, it seems that Apple has this time much more ambition than its competitors. To the point that the vehicle could directly compete with Tesla cars, in terms of safety, range, and above all price.
At the heart of the project would be a revolutionary battery technology. The battery has traditionally been one of the biggest expense items in electric vehicles. It is this which accepts a more or less rapid recharging, defines the final autonomy of the vehicle, or even its propensity to catch fire during accidents. MacRumors, who takes up the report, quotes an anonymous source who immediately reveals a design radically different from the rest of the industry. For now, manufacturers have the choice between a handful of designs.
Apple Develops First Single-Block Electric Vehicle Battery with Promising New Composition
All involve the use of a multitude of cells, which have the shape of large batteries for example at Tesla, or of plates assembled as close as possible to each other. This has the advantage of simplify their production, improve efficiency, as well as the implementation of technologies such as fast charging. But it also means a increased weight, and a waste of space. Because when you assemble cylinders, there is still empty space. And that the packaging of the batteries does not contribute to their autonomy, and therefore constitutes a dead weight.
To counter this, Tesla is imagining next generations of vehicles in which more energy-dense batteries would be inserted wherever possible, in addition to their usual location under the floor. But Apple has apparently found a way to build a real battery of the future. The first difference is that the Apple Car battery will not consist of a multitude of cells. It will be a completely monobloc battery. No more weight and space lost due to cell packaging.
Apple has also opted for a new formulation, deemed safer: “The design developed by Apple means that more active material can be packed into the battery, which will give the vehicle a potentially higher range. [qu’avec les technologies actuelles]. Apple is also exploring new chemistry for its battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate. […] which is inherently less likely to overheat and is therefore safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries ”, explains the source included in the report.
As revolutionary as the first iPhone?
The source cited by Reuters describes Apple’s technology as “revolutionary” and explains that she makes the effect of “First time you saw the iPhone”. But that’s not all. It will a priori be autonomous, since we know that the firm is working from the outset with several partners around new LiDAR sensors. The manufacture would be entrusted to a subcontractor. The firm negotiated for a time with the manufacturer Magna International – but the latter clearly did not have sufficient production capacity.
Read also: Apple Glass and Apple Car – connected glasses in 2020 and an autonomous car in 2023?
However, launching a production vehicle in very large volumes is not easy, and it remains to be seen what Apple intends to do in this area. Finally, we note that the deadline mentioned in the report is rather remote, since thewe are no longer talking about 2021, but about 2024 – or even beyond given the health crisis. Ultimately, we can quite imagine at this stage that the technologies developed by Apple are resold, or offered under license to third-party manufacturers. What remains, even in this case of figure, extremely promising.