Apple Investigates EV chargers. Is It A Clue?

Fortune reports that Apple is nosing around, asking lots of questions about EV chargers. Recently, Apple hired Rónán Ó Braonáin, who previously worked at BMW. While with the German company, he worked on integrating charging infrastructure into home energy systems. He was also involved in coordinating communication between EVs, BMW, and utilities, according to his LinkedIn profile.

EV charger from Espresso

In January, Apple hired Nan Liu, an engineer specializing in wireless charging for electric vehicles. It also hired Kurt Adelberger, an EV charging expert earlier this month.

It is an open secret that Apple is exploring opportunities in the electric vehicle market. Its profits fell for the first time in 13 years in the first quarter of 2016. It is anxious to bring the next new thing to market to pump up revenues. Its recent inquiries raise the age old question — which came first, the charger or the electric car?

Some in the industry think Apple may be planning to market its own brand of EV chargers. Like all Apple products, they would feature cutting edge technology and styling. Motorists would have a choice of recharging at some generic charging station with unknown performance metrics or an Apple charger that is known to offer the fastest, most reliable charging available.

Would Apple build its own stand alone facilities to compete with Tesla’s Supercharger network? Or is Apple simply following Tesla’s lead and planning to offer customers for its electric car their own dedicated charging network?

No one knows. Apple is famously tight lipped about its plans, even though Elon Musk says it is an “open secret” that Apple is planning to build automobiles.

Charging companies like ChargePoint and Clipper Creek declined to comment on the Fortune story. Arun Banskota, president of NRG Energy’s electric vehicle charging business, EVgo, did tell Fortune enigmatically that his company was “in discussions with every manufacturer of today and every potential manufacturer of tomorrow.”

An unnamed source tells Fortune that at least one global engineering and construction firm has offered its services to Apple. “It would be natural to assume if Apple is going to have a full battery electric vehicle that creates a seamless consumer experience the way Apple does, the charging infrastructure and its availability would be of paramount importance,” the source said.

With Apple, crumbs and bits of information are all we have to work with. You are free to draw any conclusions you like based upon what little is actually known about Apple’s intentions.

Source: Fortune  Photo credit: Espresso

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.