Given that Apple can’t make an iPhone with a battery life of more than (best case scenario) a couple of days, how would it ever manage with a far more power-intensive technology like, say, an electric car?
It seems that this is exactly the question being asked in Cupertino — and the attempt to answer it has landed Apple with a new lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Massachusetts federal court.
As per the complaint, back in June last year, Apple reportedly began an “aggressive campaign” to poach top engineers from the electric car battery maker A123 Systems. The engineers were responsible for performing critical development and testing activities on cutting-edge electric vehicle batteries.
“Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123,” the lawsuit reads. If you’re wondering what the “very same field as A123” would be, the answer is “advanced energy storage for electric-drive vehicles,” according to A123’s web page. A123 says that it has created more lithium-ion hybrid systems for transit buses than any other manufacturer in the world.
According to the suit, Apple has got the five new employees carrying out the same job in Cupertino, thereby violating noncompete and nondisclosure agreements. The first employee to leave A123 also reportedly helped recruit the other four people who left the company: resulting in a considerable loss of income for A123.
The complaint also alleges that Apple is targeting battery experts from other companies including LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Johnson Controls. A123 is asking for an unspecified judgement, and one-year order barring the defendants from working on any technology that directly competes with its business interests.
Although it is still very much a rumor, there is more and more circumstantial evidence to suggest that an Apple Car could be in the works. Jony Ive talked about cars in his New Yorker profile, much like Tim Cook discussed wearables prior to the Apple Watch being announced. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, claims Cook approved a secret car project more than a year ago, and that Apple is currently assembling a 1,000-person team to take on Tesla Motors.
With a potential $50 billion on top of Apple’s existing revenues, there’s definitely every rea$on for Cupertino to explore this product category. Although it’s definitely not going to make too many friends in the automotive industry by doing so.