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Apple Bows Out of Electric Cars: Who’s Still in the Race?

Last Updated March 4, 2024 1:59 PM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated March 4, 2024 1:59 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Apple gives up on its plan of producing an electric car.
  • But many other automakers and tech giants are still working on delivering electric vehicles.
  • Is a new Tesla on the horizon?

Apple has given up on producing an electric car after trying for several years. The Cupertino company will move some of the engineers who worked on the project to accelerate the growth of artificial intelligence (AI).

But while Apple has said farewell to electric vehicles, other automakers and tech companies – especially in China – are continuing their efforts to build an electric car.

Who’s Still Projecting Electric Cars?

In and around Beijing, the tech industry is aggressively entering the electric car market, benefiting from a landscape where manufacturing battery-powered vehicles is more accessible and cost-effective. Leading this charge is Huawei, the well-known Chinese tech giant known for its smartphones and telecommunications infrastructure.

While not branding its electric cars under its name, Huawei partnered with Dongfeng Motor Group to establish the Aito brand, launching the M5 electric SUV followed by two other models.

20 largest EV manufacturers
Data source: EV Volumes. BEV stands for battery electric vehicles. FCEV stands for fuel cell electric vehicles. PHEV stands for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

However, the recent buzz centers around Xiaomi . Renowned primarily for its smartphones, Xiaomi has just unveiled  its debut electric car, the Xiaomi SU7. This electric sedan sets ambitious goals, aiming to rival Tesla’s Model S and the Porsche Taycan in the domestic market. Production is slated to commence in the first half of the year, with plans to flood Chinese streets with this innovative vehicle.

The Chinese conglomerate BYD Company, standing for “Build Your Dreams,” has emerged as a global powerhouse in electric vehicle manufacturing. Beyond EVs, BYD’s diverse portfolio encompasses personal and commercial vehicles, monorail systems, and mobile phone components.

In 2022, numerous Chinese automakers significantly escalated their EV production efforts, with BYD notably leading the charge. Experiencing a remarkable surge, BYD’s EV volume soared by over 200%, propelling it to the forefront of the industry and securing the top position on the list of EV manufacturers.

At the heart of BYD’s success lies its Dynasty Series , named in homage to China’s rich imperial heritage. This lineup boasts popular models like the BYD Qin, once hailed as the world’s top-selling EV, and the prestigious flagship sedan, the BYD Han

What About The U.S.?

In the American arena, the electric car race is dominated  by Google and Tesla. The first, owned by Alphabet, first envisioned its electric vehicle nearly two decades ago. But, since then, the journey has seen numerous twists and turns.

Initially, Google pursued its own car designs, including the Firefly concept, which leaned more towards a minicar than a conventional vehicle. However, the company shifted gears and began collaborating with automotive giants such as FCA and Toyota.

A significant milestone came in 2016 with the establishment of Waymo, focusing on autonomous driving technology, now undergoing testing in various U.S. cities.

EV manufacturers
  This chart includes battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles. I Source: The Motley Fool

When talking about electric cars and the U.S., it’s impossible not to mention Tesla. Elon Musk’s company’s Model Y was the second-best-selling car in the world in 2023, just after Toyota’s Corolla. But, according  to Consumer Reports, a well-known American magazine that advises what is best to buy for citizens overseas, the Tesla Model Y is hands down the best electric car of 2024.

CR has certainly not been kind to Tesla in recent years. It has often criticized Autopilot, giving it only 61 points out of 100 during the award of the Best Driving Assistant  in 2023. For instance, the award went to the Ford BlueCruise. Recent recognition, however, does not concern Elon Musk’s company in its entirety, or its services specifically. In fact, CR has awarded the Model Y as a model in itself. That’s it.

Tech Companies Need Partners

The electric car industry is facing monumental challenges and significant costs, but amid this turbulence, there’s a notable shift towards connectivity and smart capabilities in vehicles. This shift naturally entices tech giants to explore developing their own electric car models.

Take Google for instance, which ventured into this space with its Google Car project. It collaborated with Chinese automotive company Geely through Alphabet’s subsidiary Waymo to develop robotaxis. Crucially, for tech companies, particularly those in the West, partnering with traditional producers is vital to progress from conceptualization to actual production.

Unlike some, like Apple, which never secured an industrial partner, others are successfully entering the automotive market. However, it’s noteworthy that the focus is shifting toward the East, particularly China, where both traditional manufacturers and tech companies are making significant strides in this domain.

Collaborations are not necessary only for producing cars but also for selling them. So, as the electric vehicle market experiences rapid growth, numerous businesses and organizations are seizing the opportunity to forge vendor partnerships , aiding in the facilitation and financing of foundational projects and early-stage growth initiatives.

These partnerships encompass a wide array of entities, including utility companies, automakers, municipalities, governments, private foundations, and various vendors. Collaborative efforts may entail shared responsibilities, incentive programs, rebates, guidance on best practices, and mentorship opportunities, among other activities.

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