World goes mad for the Apple car again

December 22, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
Learning lessons from the Dyson electric car
Reports of an electric Apple car set to launch in 2024 are a mix of various plans and technologies

Reuters is reporting that Apple is planning its own electric car set to launch in 2024. This comes on the back of Project Titan, which is developing sensor, hardware and software for autonomous technology and saw the hype  back in 2015  and then again in 2018.

The move mirrors that of Dyson (above), which designed its own, non-autonomous vehicle but abandoned its plans over a year ago in October 2019 for lack of a manufacturing partner

The Apple car report also seems confused, particularly on the power system. Reuters cites sources saying the company is looking at LFP, lithium rion phosphate, battery technology as key differentiator with a ‘monocell’ construction rather than using cells or pouches. LFP is a mature, well proven technology with a lower power density than current NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) cells and is less prone to short circuits and overheating. It is widely used in portable power systems.

A move to a LFP cathode that uses LiFePO₄ would avoid the ethical sourcing issues of cobalt and nickel, and the graphite anodes could be combined with silicon to boost the energy density. But the manufacturing process for large monocells would take a considerable amount of time to come to market.

Much more likely is the use of LFP as structural elements in the construction of a vehicle. As these cells are safer than NMC, they are more suited to building a car and fits with Apple’s design ethos. Tesla has already pointed out that it is moving in this direction for its next generation vehicles, and plans to use LFP cells in its prototype electric truck designs.  

But Apple is a design and software house and a brand, not a hardware manufacturer, and this is key. Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has already shown an electric vehicle platform design that can be modified for its largest customer. Adding in ARM-based hardware as the engine control units, sensor fusion, machine learning

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