CEO Tim Cook has had enough of Elon Musk getting all the accolades.
The on-again, off-again relationship that Apple has to building a car is currently in the "on" stage after we received reports last month that it was talking to companies and hiring department heads away from other automakers. Today in the Korea Times we see that the company is talking to more suppliers in the country, though we're still not sure if we're getting close to a reveal.
As of now, Apple outsources the manufacturing of its phones, tablets, and batteries. That likely wouldn't change if the computer company goes into making cars. The fact that it's always in touch with battery and component makers is also a plus when going big.
"Apple officials have been in Korea for business talks with its Korean partners in the semiconductor and display sectors. As seen in Apple's smartphone business, the company is seeking business partners in Korea for its EV business," a senior industry executive directly involved with the issue told The Korea Times.
"Without partnerships with Korean vendors, Apple won't be able to complete its EV business plan. As far as I know, Apple has talked with LG, SK and Hanwha, but the talks are still in the early stages."
Apple currently has a team on the ground in Korea engaged in talks. SK Innovation, the EV-battery making outfit of SK Group, or LG Electronics, which has a joint venture with Magna (which builds the Toyota Supra), could be a supplier, according to the report. It currently looks like Magna is the front runner.
A key point here is that Apple wants to use lithium and iron phosphate batteries as opposed to lithium ion. Phosphate batteries are weaker in colder temperatures, but safer and cheaper. As of now, Korean battery firms are not producing that type, which means that Apple might have to go to Chinese vendors like CATL and BYD.
The issue with that is the deepening trade rift with China and the US, which might be a boon for Korean manufacturers if that's what the company decides to go with. However, LG and SK are building battery factories in the US, and Samsung is thinking about the same. If that happens, Apple could get its batteries; we'd steer clear of China and US workers would get more work. We'll continue to follow this story.