Hot on the heels of Chinese-language Economic Daily News reporting that Apple was targeting September 2021 for release of its unannounced Apple Car, Reuters has a much more likely story saying that Apple is targeting 2024 for release of its auto entry. The report said that Apple’s car would be aimed at consumers, and that it might include “next level” battery technology.
Like Economic Daily News, Reuters didn’t name its sources. But, EDN was specific that its sources came from the auto supply chain, while Reuters cited sources “familiar with the matter.” Your mileage may vary, but the Reuters piece feels like much stronger reporting, and the timing is much more realistic. Accordingly, if you want to buy into Apple Car coming to a highway near you, I’d put more stock in the Reuters framing of the story.
“Next Level” Battery Tech
An interesting aspect of this story is the idea that Apple might be including some “next level” battery tech in its car. According to Reuters:
As for the car’s battery, Apple plans to use a unique ‘monocell’ design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials, one of the people said.
Apple is also looking at lithium iron phosphate (LFP) tech for its battery, a material that is, “inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.”
What I like about this element of Reuters’ reporting is that Apple doesn’t enter a market unless it can control one or more aspects of the product. This allows the company to maintain a competitive advantage and not have to compete based on price. A prime example of this is the long rumored Apple television set. It eventually became clear that Apple had indeed been working on its own television set, but that the company eventually decided not to release it because it couldn’t control enough of the product to have an advantage.
It seems likely Apple would follow that same practice if it was going to take on cars, and a battery technology that significantly moves the needle would certainly be something that fits that bill.
2024 for Apple Car Feels Good
When writing about the Economic Daily News piece, I noted that stories based on supply chain leaks often have some core truth to them, but that sources like EDN or DigiTimes don’t always make the right conclusions on what that core truth really means. For instance, I have little doubt that Apple has put in orders to the auto supply chain, as EDN reported, but the idea that Apple could be ready to ship in 10 months (September of 2021) without word of real production already leaking doesn’t work.
But, the idea that Apple is targeting 2024 with Reuters’s level of detail (or lack thereof), does work for me. If Reuters has it right, expect leaks to increase throughout 2021, and for details about Apple’s car to hit the news by 2022. To that end, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple decided to pre-announce this car way early just to be able to control that initial narrative.
Think Steve Jobs announcing iPhone in January of 2007, even though it wouldn’t ship until June of that year simply because the company had to get regulatory approval for the device. Rather than the product leaking from regulatory filings, Apple decided to show it off on stage in January with Steve Jobs asking us if we got it yet.