Industry report: BEVs (Apple, batteries, and such)

Apple car dead. Apple, which has been semi-secretly working on making its own electric car in conjunction with a real automaker, today officially cancelled the project.

The Apple Car was likely first initiated under Steve Jobs; around 2,000 people were working on it as of this month. The project has been going on for over ten years, and was to include self-driving as well as electric propulsion.

Apple Car

The car designers and hardware engineers may be leaving Apple through layoffs, though some employees will move to other parts of the company—especially the generative “AI” group, which has been hard pressed to have major work in place for the next iPhone operating system, IOS 18, and possibly the next desktop/laptop system, MacOS 15.

Apple will still produce CarPlay, though GM EVs won’t use it. The latest version can take over both the center screen and the gauge cluster screen, to provide turn by turn navigation; it can also use the head-up display on cars that have one.

Behind the price cuts. Automotive News reported that the cost of EV batteries appears to be falling, which may explain some of the price cuts through the industry. Mainly, though, the cuts appear to be the result of increasing competition. Tesla has seen its share eroded by newcomers, with more to come, in Europe and North America; Stellantis and Volkswagen (including Audi, Porsche, Skoda, and, soon, Scout) have been particularly strong players in Europe, while Hyundai-Kia, Ford, and GM have been encroaching in the United States. In China, other automakers have started to undercut Tesla, which slashed prices to respond.

Newer batteries are more likely to be modular in design—repairable, in short. Stellantis has a deal with a company that makes their batteries swappable (in Europe). Solid state batteries, which will also cost less, are likely to appear in the 2028 model-year for Stellantis and Toyota, along with other companies.

2024 Fiat 500e (RED) Canada

Fiat 500e for all. For the first time, all Americans and Canadians will be able to buy the Fiat 500e, a city car with relatively short driving range. The new 500e uses a different platform than the older model, which in the U.S. was sold only in California.

Slower adoption curve. As reported earlier, the U.S. is likely to slow the rate of phase-in for electric cars to match their slowing growth. The result might be that fewer than 50% of the 2030 cars sold in the U.S. will be EVs.

Consolidation. Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO, said he expected industry consolidation as inexpensive Chinese BEVs from companies such as BYD, Nio, and Stellantis’ own partner Leapmotor come to the European and North and South American markets. Many have predicted that the auto industry would fall to five or six players over the past 40 years, but new entrants seem to be replacing old names. The auto market, with its many segments, does not appear to be subject to the same rule as colas or operating software.

Toyota tricks. While not strictly electric-car news, Toyota’s new “carbon eating car” uses special filters to remove tiny amounts of carbon dioxide from the air as one drives; the filters themselves likely take more carbon dioxide to produce than they can remove, and the eventual disposition of the filters hasn’t been planned out. In short, the system is uneconomical, impractical, and useless except as propaganda for those who do not read beyond headlines. Toyota continues to claim that its inaction in electric cars was part of a plan, though the company recently spent billions acquiring shares of battery makers as it catches up.

Ford fiascos. Ford gave much publicity to its halt in 2024 Lightning electric pickup production, but earlier the company had put a stop-sale on its gasoline-powered 2024 F-series pickups. The company did not say outright that the problems were unique to the electric powertrain. Ford has sharply raised and then sharply lowered the price of the Lightning, causing sales to crash.

2024 Jeep Recon BEV

Jeep and Scout EVs. The two Jeep electrics, the “Wagoneer S” and the Recon, both appear to be on track for 2024 calendar-year production at the Toluca, Mexico plant that was once the world’s sole source of PT Cruisers, and more recently made Fiats and Dodge Journeys. The plant will evidently be one of two North American STLA Large facilities; only one STLA Medium plant seems to currently be in the cards, in Brampton, Ontario, though higher sales could change that. It’s also unknown whether Medium and Large are assembly-line compatible.

The Volkswagen-owned Scout will be making an electric vehicle competing against the Bronco and Jeeps, likely going directly against the Recon. The original Scout was produced by International Harvester; the first Dodge Dakota shared many of its dimensions. While many people are not convinced that there is a future for electric off-roaders, Volkswagen and Jeep, at least, seem certain of it. In Jeep’s case, the main rationale might be countering the emissions issues of the Wrangler, which is at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of fuel use per square foot of footprint.

McIntosh sound in 2025 Wagoneer S BEV

Why? Stellantis’ annual report showed why so many electric Mopars are going to show up in the next year: because FCA had made no provisions for meeting tighter emissions and fuel economy rules. As a result, FCA US failed to meet 2021, 2022, or 2023 numbers, and is unlikely to do well in 2024 despite these new vehicles. Stellantis, rather than paying fines, is going to try to “backfill” and exceed standards in future years, applying the excess to the years they failed to make their numbers. That means more electrics, more 4xe, and quite likely trying to make more profit on fewer gasoline-powered Wranglers, Gladiators, and pickups. Fuel economy will be as much of an emphasis in the 2025-2030 future as it was ignored in the 2020-23 past.

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