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10-year wait for Korean firm’s Apple car battery: analysts

Amid reports that Apple is in talks with a small Korean firm to make batteries for a secretive car project, local experts said that it would take more than 10 years to be mass produced.

A local news media recently reported that Apple is working with an unidentified Korean firm comprised of around 20 battery experts. The small Korean battery firm Orange Power is considered a strong candidate as it is the first and only Korean firm to have a patent on such technologies. 

An Apple store in Santa Monica, California (123RF)
An Apple store in Santa Monica, California (123RF)

This company has a patent on lithium-ion batteries, which are cylindrical and have a hollow center with a thickness of two fingers, the report said, suggesting that such products may raise safety and battery life.

The development of hollow batteries, however, is not new and there have been some global attempts to mass produce the batteries for electric vehicles, experts said.

“There have been some efforts to produce such batteries from foreign firms, which includes the US firm Johnson Controls, but all of them failed to mass produce,” Yoo Ji-sang, a chief of Korea Electronics Technology institute’s Advanced Batteries Research Center, told The Korea Herald.

“If the company repeats the same old technology that would be meaningless and there should be some technical innovation,” he said, adding, “Even if successful, it still would take more than 10 years for mass production.”

The technology, which appears to raise battery safety because the hollow space allows more cooling for batteries, has also power storage issues, other experts said.

“Safety may be raised because the air flow keeps cooling inside batteries. What matters, however, is whether the reduced volume -- because of the holes -- can also raise energy density and power,” said Kim Kyung-yeon, an analyst from LG Economic Research Institute.

“It remains to be seen because not much information on the technology is disclosed yet,” he added.

Orange Power, which reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple, declined to make any official comment. Apple’s officials also visited the company this month, according to the local news report.

The Apple electric car project, codenamed “Titan,” is an electric car project allegedly undergoing research and development. In January, the US tech giant appointed Bob Mansfield, who headed the development of Apple’s Mac Book, as a chief to lead Apple‘s car project. Apple has recently hired former Tesla engineers, including Chris Porritt, to work on the vehicle project.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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