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Apple taps Tesla battery supplier CATL for EV development

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Apple is reportedly planning to tap Tesla battery supplier CATL, among others, as rumors of the tech giant’s electric vehicle project continue to rage on.

Apple, most known for its domination of the tech industry through its expansive list of cell phones, computers, and other devices, has been rumored to be planning an entrance into the electric car industry for several months. Rumors began several months ago when Apple was reportedly working with TSMC for the development of self-driving chips that would help the company work toward an autonomous vehicle. Then, more rumors regarding potential production dates began to circulate, hinting toward 2024, or even 2028 or later, in some cases.

With the increasing number of developments related to Apple’s possible development of an autonomous electric car, speculation continues to grow as well, and more substance continues to be added to the potential story with every development.

Now, a new report from Reuters suggests that Apple is in early-stage talks with CATL and BYD. CATL is the world’s largest battery manufacturer and BYD the fourth-largest.

According to the report, there is no evidence of an agreement between Apple with CATL or BYD, or potentially both battery suppliers. However, Apple is reportedly requesting that the suppliers set up battery supply manufacturing facilities in the United States as a condition of the partnership, sources said. This adds a potential roadblock in CATL’s partnership with Apple, as the company is reluctant to build a new plant in the United States as tensions between the U.S. and China could cause a political issue, plus it could provide an unstable financial situation for CATL.

CATL is a large-scale battery supplier to Tesla and provides cells to the company’s electric vehicles that are produced in China. The two companies have shared a partnership for over a year, and there are no plans for the two to separate. CATL solidified a long-term partnership by announcing that it will build a new 80 MW facility just south of Tesla’s Giga Shanghai production facility.

According to the Reuters report, Apple wants to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries because they are cheaper to produce and do not utilize nickel or cobalt, both of which are more expensive and could drive up costs. Tesla shifted its Standard Range vehicles to an LFP cell, according to Elon Musk, who said that nickel supply was a main concern for Tesla moving forward.

Apple has made no formal announcement regarding its plans to develop an electric vehicle, and it doesn’t seem as if the company is shedding any light on the possibility. Rumors of a partnership with Hyundai also circulated in the EV sector early this year, but talks never went any further.

Apple taps Tesla battery supplier CATL for EV development

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-catl-byd-electric-vehicle-battery/

Automotive

Ford acquires Electriphi as it prepares to woo EV fleet customers

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Ford has two electric vehicles in the pipeline —  the E-Transit cargo van and F-150 Lighting Pro —aimed at commercial customers. Now, the automaker is rounding out its future EV commercial business with the acquisition of battery management and fleet monitoring software startup Electriphi.

Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed. Ford is betting that the software developed by the three-year-old San Francisco startup will help it capture more than $1 billion in revenue just from charging by 2030. Ford Pro has financial ambitions beyond charging. The business unit said it expects to generate $45 billion in revenue from hardware and adjacent and new services by 2025 — up from $27 billion in 2019.

Electriphi, along with its 30-person team, will be folded into the newly minted Ford Pro business unit, which is focused on providing services to commercial customers of its electric Transit van and F-150 Lightning Pro pickup truck. Ford will start shipping E-Transit to customers later this year. The F-150 Lightning Pro, a commercial variant of the all-electric Lightning pickup truck, is expected to come to market in spring 2022.

“As commercial customers add electric vehicles to their fleets, they want depot charging options to make sure they’re powered up and ready to go to work every day,” said Ford Pro CEO Ted Cannis. “With Electriphi’s existing advanced technology IP in the Ford Pro electric vehicles and services portfolio, we will enhance the experience for commercial customers and be a single-source solution for fleet-depot charging.”

Electriphi launched in 2018 when it became obvious that upcoming state and federal mandates would drive heavy duty vehicles and mid-sized commercial fleets towards electrification, co-founder and CEO Muffi Ghadiali told TechCrunch in a recent interview. The company has focused on segments deploying commercial electric vehicles in the U.S. and internationally, a list that includes school buses and transit buses.

“If you just think about what’s going to happen in the next 10 years — it’s a massive transformation in mobility for energy and software,”  Ghadiali said. “The stakes are incredibly high and time is running out.” He noted fleet operators are nervous about that upcoming mandates that will require moving to zero-emissions vehicles by the end of the decade. “To turn over your entire fleet in 10 years, you have to start now; they’re going, ‘I have to make sure that my fleet operations don’t skip a heartbeat, while this transition is happening.’”

Ford first approached Electriphi in early 2021. The startup had raised just $4.2 million at a valuation of about $11 million prior to the deal with autoomaker.

While Ford’s focus is building out the software for its E-Transit and Lightning Pro, it is possible that it will also continue to serve Electriphi’s customer base.

“Interestingly, as it turns out, the underlying Ford platform is used across many different vehicle types as well as school buses,” Ghadiali said. “So it’s hard to say which segments we won’t still be in because they are you know they are very relevant to what we do. Of course, our focus will be the large volume that the Ford is going to ship in the next year.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/17/ford-acquires-electriphi-as-it-prepares-to-woo-ev-fleet-customers/

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Porsche Announces Plethora Of Updates To Its Infotainment Tech

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Software is becoming a vital part of the automotive experience as automakers further digitize the automobile, an essential middleman in how we interact with our cars. Car companies big and small are introducing new infotainment software, voice assistants, and smartphone apps. Porsche is no different, today introducing Porsche Communication Management 6.0 – a suite of software goodies designed to help occupants tailor their driving experience.

PCM 6.0 receives a host of new features, but the experience starts with an improved layout – revised icon designs, a new font, and new colors. Easy-to-read information is crucial in a car, but glancing at the infotainment screen is but one mode of interaction. Porsche also improved its system with larger touch areas so a driver wouldn’t need to take as much of their focus off the road in front of them.

Passengers can forgo touching the screen altogether with improved voice control. “Hey, Porsche,” allows access to a host of functions such as “I need petrol,” instructing the navigation system to start a search for gas stations. Other functions controllable by voice include the massaging seats, the air conditioning, and the ambient lighting.

Another feature of PMC 6.0 is its new intelligent navigation capability that not only ensures that the latest and most accurate map is downloaded, but it can also calculate the drive route in real-time with traffic. It goes so far it includes showing the driver how much traffic is in a particular lane. PCM 6.0 users will also be able to use both wireless Apple CarPlay (previously available) and wired Android Auto (newly available). Drivers will be able to access PCM’s voice assistance and Android and Apple’s respective voice assistants, too.

No infotainment system is complete without a companion smartphone app. The Porsche Connect App gives drivers access to a host of vehicle features when they are away from their car, including remote door lock and unlock. The Porsche Taycan, Cayenne, and Panamera equipped with the hybrid drive can adjust a car’s interior temperature with the ability to schedule precooling/preheating for planned departure times. Customers will also be able to track tire pressure, door lock status, and more from their phones, too.

The free Porsche Track Precision App can now be displayed on the car’s screen with Apple CarPlay. It features 300 programmed international circuits, and can track the car’s performance.

 Porsche Communication Management 6.0
 Porsche Communication Management 6.0

One of the more interesting features, which is still in the prototype phase, is Soundtrack My Life. The feature provides a literal soundtrack tailored to the car’s route and the driver’s driving styling. Porsche says it’s not based on classical sound structures and is more akin to a film score, the soundtrack adapting to how the driver accelerates, brakes, and negotiates turns. If Porsche decides to produce it, it will integrate with the Porsche Connect App.

PCM 6.0 arrives this summer in the 911, Panamera, and Cayenne.

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Source: https://www.motor1.com/news/514796/porsche-communication-management-6-revealed/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-category-technology

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Canoo wants to connect owners to all of their vehicles — not just Canoo’s

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Electric vehicle startup Canoo detailed some of the features that may be on its app on Thursday, foremost of which is a one-stop shop functionality that customers could use for their Canoo vehicles – and all their other cars, as well.

This unusual approach to its branded vehicle app could potentially pay off big-time for Canoo in terms of user data and revenue via sales on services like tire replacements and insurance. If the average Canoo driver owns two other vehicles, that could mean that 50,000 sold Canoos could yield data on up to 150,000 vehicles total, Canoo’s senior VP of global customer journey and aftersales Christian Treiber said.

“Let’s think about the opportunity overall,” he said. “The Canoo ecosystem, but for the entire customer garage.”

For all vehicles – Canoo or not – that are hooked into the app, the driver will be able to see details on range and battery life for their EVs, as well as the odometer, miles per gallon, and total range for their internal combustion engine vehicles. Treiber said this could be accomplished simply using an ODB connector.

“We know how to translate data in cars, we know how to take that metadata and put in service maintenance, repair and asset information, because that’s what we’ve done, we’ve built a multi billion dollar business doing this,” Canoo CEO Tony Aquila told TechCrunch. “So we can take that data and do that for you. It’s nothing for us on our platform. It’s just an OBD dongle. OEMs spend money on stupid stuff, we’d rather give you a dongle for your second car. If you want to connect it, you can run it all off the same app.”

Aquila took the helm at Canoo in April, after co-founders Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz departed in June 2020 and April, respectively. (Kranz was hired by Apple to help with the development of its first car.) Aquila founded Solera Holdings in 2005, a risk management and asset protection software company.

Canoo’s hoping to use its app to drive revenue in other ways as well. For Canoo cars, drivers can access the Maintenance and Upgrades section to instantly upgrade the horsepower of their vehicle, schedule a service appointment or check for software updates. Up to 94% of the electronic control units will have wireless updating capability. The app will also make predictive wear and tear reminders for when you’ll likely need new tires – and it will push special offers for these services in advance.

Drivers will also be able to order other vehicle upgrades for the Canoo, like a roof rack or floor or seat protection.

Much of these features – especially the services for non-Canoo vehicles – will likely come together through partnerships with service providers, insurance companies and vehicle detailers. Trieber hinted at other potential partnerships as well, such as using the Canoo app as a digital wallet to pay for a meal at a restaurant, for example

“The single greatest opportunity for the automotive industry is monetizing data, and we want to be part of it, and we will be part of it,” he said.

The news was announced during the company’s investor day presentation Thursday, where Aquila also revealed Oklahoma as the site for its first factory. That location is expected to open in 2023. Canoo’s debut lifestyle vehicle, which is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022, will being manufactured by Netherlands-based contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar while the factory is being built.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/17/canoo-wants-to-connect-owners-to-all-of-their-vehicles-not-just-canoos/

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Canoo to build its first electric vehicle factory in Oklahoma

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Canoo, the electric vehicle startup that recently became a publicly traded company through a merger with a SPAC, plans to build a factory in Oklahoma that will employ up to 2,000 workers, newly appointed CEO Tony Aquila said Thursday during the company’s investor day presentation.

The factory will be located on a 400-acre site in the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, Oklahoma about 45 minutes from Tulsa. The facility, which the company describes as a “mega microfactory” will include a paint shop, body shop and general assembly plant and is expected to open in 2023. The site is near a number of manufacturing and logistics businesses, Aquila noted.

“It’s a hub that we think is going to grow like crazy,” Aquila said at the event. “In addition to that, it puts you dead center for logistics and movement across North America, so you can get anywhere, same day and back is pretty important.”

Canoo, which has said it will deliver its first EV in the fourth quarter of 2022, also announced it is partnering with Netherlands-based contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar to handle initial production while the factory is being built.

Canoo’s announcement comes nearly a year after Oklahoma lost its bid to convince Tesla to build its next factory in the state. Tesla ultimately picked a site near Austin for the factory, which it has said will produce the Cybertruck, the Tesla Semi and the Model Y and Model 3 for sales to customers on the East Coast.

“We’re super pumped — we think we are the flavor of the month and we are the right place for manufacturing,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said, noting that the state has the lowest electricity costs in the entire country. Those lower rates have helped attract companies like Google, which operates a data center in Pryor.

Canoo’s investor day featured a variety of engineers, designers and executives, all of whom focused on certain aspects of the company’s vision. Canoo is focused on products for consumers and commercial customers. All of Canoo’s EVs will share the same skateboard and use different cabins or “top hats” that can be paired to create unique vehicles. The company has unveiled several vehicles, including an electric microbus, a pickup and one designed for business-to-business applications. The company has scaled up its workforce to about 435 people as of the end of the first quarter of 2021, and plans to expand to 690 people by the end of the year, according to CTO Pete Savagian.

It was also the first major public event with Aquila steering the company that has had a bumpy ride in the past year.

Canoo started as Evelozcity in 2017, founded by former Faraday Future executives Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. The company rebranded as Canoo in spring 2019 and debuted its first vehicle several months later. The unique-looking vehicle and Canoo’s initial plan to offer it only as a subscription helped the company gain the attention of investors and the media. Canoo even landed a partnership with Hyundai to co-develop EVs, but that deal fell apart earlier this year after the company changed its business model and decided to not offer engineering services to other automakers, according to comments made in March by Aquila.

Canoo also lost its co-founders, first Krause, and more recently Kranz. And in May, the company disclosed that it is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The investigation is broad and covers the special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp.’s initial public offering and merger with Canoo, the company’s operations, business model, revenues, revenue strategy, customer agreements, earnings and other related topics, along with the recent departures of certain of the company’s officers, according to a quarterly earnings report posted May 17.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/17/canoo-to-build-its-first-electric-vehicle-factory-in-oklahoma/

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