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Apple targets car production by 2024 and eyes ‘next level’ battery technology

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By Stephen Nellis, Norihiko Shirouzu, Paul Lienert

NEW DELHI:Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.

Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a third person who has seen Apple’s battery design.

Apple declined to comment on its plans or future products.

Making a vehicle represents a supply chain challenge even for Apple, a company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronics products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car. It took Elon Musk’s Tesla 17 years before it finally turned a sustained profit making cars.

“If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone,” said a person who worked on Project Titan.

It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added.

Two people with knowledge of Apple’s plans warned pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.

Shares of Tesla ended 6.5% lower on Monday after their debut in the S&P 500 on Monday. Apple shares ended 1.24% higher after the news.

Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road, two people familiar with the company’s plans said.

Apple’s car might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances, another person said. Some sensors could be derived from Apple’s internally developed lidar units, that person said. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models released this year both feature lidar sensors.

Reuters had previously reported that Apple had held talks with potential lidar suppliers, but it was also examining building its own sensor.

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’s design means that more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a potentially longer range. Apple is also examining a chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, the person said, which is inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.

”It’s next level,” the person said of Apple’s battery technology. “Like the first time you saw the iPhone.”

Apple had previously engaged Magna International Inc in talks about manufacturing a car, but the talks petered out as Apple’s plans became unclear, a person familiar with those previous efforts said. Magna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To turn a profit, automotive contract manufacturers often ask for volumes that could pose a challenge even to Apple, which would be a newcomer to the automotive market.

“In order to have a viable assembly plant, you need 100,000 vehicles annually, with more volume to come,” the person said.

Some Apple investors reacted to the Reuters report on the company’s plans with caution. Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple investor Gullane Capital Partners, said it could be tough for Apple to produce large volumes of cars out of the gate.

“It would seem to me that if Apple develops some advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilized in a partnership with an existing manufacturer under license,” Miller said. “As we see with Tesla and the legacy auto companies, having a very complex manufacturing network around the globe doesn’t happen overnight.”

Hal Eddins, chief economist at Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said Apple has a history of higher margins than most automakers.

“My initial reaction as a shareholder is, huh?” Eddins said. “Still don’t really see the appeal of the car business, but Apple may be eyeing another angle than what I’m seeing.”

Source: Reuters, Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; and Paul Lienert and Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Jonathan Weber, Edward Tobin and Sonya Hepinstall

 

5g

Vi showcases 5G

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NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), leading telecom operator, today demonstrated a range of 5G-based technology solutions as part of its ongoing 5G trials on government allocated 5G spectrum in Pune, Maharashtra and Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

According to Ravinder Takkar, MD & CEO, Vodafone Idea Limited, “With our 5G trials underway, Vi is preparing to take India on the next journey of fifth generation wireless mobile communication technology. Our 5G trials showcase a whole new world of possibilities across various domains that promise a new era of technology advancement in India. I am confident that 5G will bring a better tomorrow that will deliver significant benefits to consumers, businesses and society, driving digital economy growth in India.”

With the purpose for a better tomorrow, Vi has been conducting 5G trials and developed a wide range of use cases relevant for Enterprises and Consumers in India. Vi has partnered with industry leaders like L&T Smart World & Communication, Athonet, Indian start-ups like Vizzbee & Tweek Labs, and technology leaders – Ericsson and Nokia for trialling use cases in the two locations.

Committed to helping its customers thrive and have a better tomorrow, Vi is leveraging the power of 5G technology across segments such as industry 4.0, smart cities, smart healthcare, smart workplace, smart education, smart agriculture, gaming, amongst others. Vi’s trials have proven that high data speed, low latency and reliability of 5G technology, can bring about massive developments by enhancing business performance, revolutionizing customer experience, changing consumer lifestyle and positively impacting people dwelling in remote corners of India.

Vi has been allocated 26 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum in the mmWave band by the DoT, for 5G network trials and use cases. Vi has achieved peak speeds in excess of 1.5 Gbps on 3.5 GHz, more than 4.2 Gbps on 26 GHz and up to 9.8 Gbps on backhaul spectrum of E-bands.

The 5G trial network set up by Vi in Pune, deploys Ericsson Radios and Ericsson Dual Mode Core based on cloud native technology comprising of 5G SA, 5G NSA & LTE packet core functions. All use cases demonstrated in Pune have been developed over Ericsson’s 5G technology solutions.

In Gandhinagar, Vi is using Nokia’s AirScale radio portfolio and Microwave E-band solution for the trial that support enterprises, both large and small and medium businesses with reliable connectivity. Vi use cases in Gandhinagar were demonstrated via a live telecast at the special media preview held in Pune.

 

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Mobile Services

Vi launches new tariff plans for Digital India

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NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), India’s leading telecom service provider, has announced the launch of its new tariff plans for prepaid users in India. The new plans will be available starting 25th November 2021.

The new plans will start the process of ARPU improvement and help address the financial stress faced by the industry.

These tariff plans will allow VIL to continue improving India’s Fastest Mobile Network, verified by Ookla®, the global leader in fixed broadband and mobile network testing applications. Vi remains committed to play its role in accelerating the realization of the Digital India vision of the government.

In line with its commitment to providing its customers with simple and convenient products, Vi has curated an optimum range of feature rich plans for both voice and data. Customers can avail their benefits by selecting the plan best suited to their specific needs.

Users can visit www.myvi.in for more details, starting 25th November, 2021.

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Mobile Services

Airtel announces revised mobile tariffs

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has always maintained that the mobile Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) needs to be at Rs 200 and ultimately at Rs 300, so as to provide a reasonable return on capital that allows for a financially healthy business model.

We also believe that this level of ARPU will enable the substantial investments required in networks and spectrum. Even more important, this will give Airtel the elbow room to roll out 5G in India.

Therefore, as a first step, we are taking the lead in rebalancing our tariffs during the month of November. Accordingly our new tariffs as indicated below will come into effect from November 26, 2021.

Airtel’s New Prepaid Tariffs

Current Price (Rs) Validity New Price (Rs) Benefits
Tariffed Voice Plans
79 28 days 99 50% more talktime of Rs 99, 200MB data

1p/sec voice tariff

Unlimited Voice Bundles
149 28 days 179 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB data
219 28 days 265 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1 GB/day data
249 28 days 299 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1.5 GB/day data
298 28 days 359 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
399 56 days 479 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1.5 GB/day data
449 56 days 549 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
379 84 days 455 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 6 GB data
598 84 days 719 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1.5 GB/day data
698 84 days 839 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
1498 365 days 1799 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 24 GB data
2498 365 days 2999 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
Data Top-ups
48 Unlimited 58 3 GB data
98 Unlimited 118 12 GB data
251 Unlimited 301 50 GB data
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