Tesla beware: Apple may have found the holy grail of electric vehicles

“By now, the weight of the evidence that Apple is working on a car has become overwhelming, but an announcement out of the UK of a hydrogen fuel cell powered iPhone may shed the most light yet on Apple’s automobile project,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “The technology used to build the fuel cell powered iPhone could be used to build a fuel cell powered car, but not just any hydrogen powered car. The fuel cells powering the iPhone could amount to the Holy Grail of EV technology, able to provide long range combined with convenient and safe refueling almost anywhere.”

“The report of the fuel cell powered iPhone 6 contained important clues about the technology. The fuel cell was built by Intelligent Energy, a British startup with reported close ties to Apple,” Hibben writes. “The report also indicated that the hydrogen was stored at low pressure in some form of powdered medium.”

“Intelligent Energy’s iPhone fuel cell demonstrates impressive energy density, able to store about 4 KWh/liter. If the technology scales approximately as the current device, which is likely, then a gallon sized container would hold about 15 KWh,” Hibben writes. “Just 6 of these gallon containers would store as much energy as the Tesla Model S 85 KWh battery pack.”

“Also very impressive is the weight of the cells relative to the Tesla battery pack. The 85 KWh Model S battery pack is estimated to weigh about 1200 lbs. For a similar 85KWh of storage (6 gallon modules using the iPhone cell technology), the weight would be about 1/10th of that,” Hibben writes. “IE’s technology promises to be the Holy Grail of EV: an electric vehicle technology that provides long range, easy refueling, and which doesn’t require an enormous investment in refueling infrastructure.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in March on reports of Tesla welcoming Apple into the vehicle space:

Wonder if they – or any other vehicle maker – would welcome an Apple Car powered by hydrogen fuel cells?

It is a mistake to look at the way the market is today, with low margins, and therefore conclude that Apple would ignore the market. The same goes for current technology. Who says Apple’s working on an electric plug-in car, for example?

Apple blows up markets and current technology for grins.

If you looked at the mobile phone market in 2002 and told people that, in five years, Apple begin to completely remake the cellphone industry, soon reaping nearly all of the profits in the process, with a $799+ pocket computer, you’d be laughed out of the room. (Of course, that didn’t stop us.)

Yes, it makes no sense for Apple to be developing a “car.” Apple developing a car makes perfect sense when you expect them to bring new things to the table to the table that will blown up and remake the current market. That’s what Apple does. If Apple can’t deliver paradigm shifts, then they don’t enter the market.MacDailyNews Take, March 12, 2015

“When Apple looks at what categories to enter, we ask these kinds of questions: What are the primary technologies behind this? What do we bring? Can we make a significant contribution to society with this? If we can’t, and if we can’t own the key technologies, we don’t do it. That philosophy comes directly from [Steve Jobs] and it still very much permeates the place. I hope that it always will.” – Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 18, 2015

And as we wrote back in May:

Sleep tight, Elon.

Wonder who’d welcome an Apple Car powered by hydrogen fuel cells?

Meet the hydrogen-powered Apple iPhone that runs for a week per cartridge – August 24, 2015
Apple Car: Tesla engineer joins Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ vehicle effort – August 21, 2015
Apple said to be in talks to use BMW i3 carbon fiber body as basis for its own electric car – July 27, 2015
Apple Car: Forget ‘electric,’ think hydrogen fuel cells – February 20, 2015
Apple working with Intelligent Energy on fuel cell technology for mobile devices, sources say – July 14, 2014
North Carolina regulators approve Apple’s 4.8-megawatt fuel cell facility at Maiden data center – May 23, 2012
New aerial images of Apple’s planned NC fuel cell, solar farms published – April 7, 2012
Apple’s massive fuel cell energy project to be largest in the U.S. – April 4, 2012
Apple patent application reveals next-gen fuel cell powered Macs and iOS devices – December 22, 2011
Apple patent app details highly-advanced hydrogen fuel cells to power portable devices – October 20, 2011


  1. I know that Elon Musk would NATURALLY say it, but he goes on record, pretty credibly, about a comparison of energy efficiency between electrical battery-powered cars / appliances versus an intermediary energy storage medium like hydrogen.
    Check it out. While he has that laid-back near-smugness of a super genius, his points are not unreasonable:


    1. It is also easy to ignore a basic fact that the Tesla doesn’t care where the electricity comes from.

      Batteries, supercapacitors, & any number of fuel cell designs.

    2. His biggest complaint about hydrogen is its production. But, if we built nuclear plants to generate electricity during the peak hours of the day and used them to generate hydrogen in the off-peak hours, we would have a win-win situation.

      Think about all the nuclear plants that could have been built for this with all that $700 billion of Obama stimulus money. We would have created many permanent jobs, helped solve our energy needs and reduced carbon emissions. Instead, we only got $700 billion in more debt.

  2. this is how its going to go…

    ARTHUR: You fight with the strength of many men, Sir knight.
    I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
    I seek the finest and the bravest knights in the land to join me
    in my Court of Camelot.
    You have proved yourself worthy; will you join me?
    You make me sad. So be it. Come, Patsy.
    BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.
    ARTHUR: What?
    BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.
    ARTHUR: I have no quarrel with you, good Sir knight, but I must
    cross this bridge.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Then you shall die.
    ARTHUR: I command you as King of the Britons to stand aside!
    BLACK KNIGHT: I move for no man.
    ARTHUR: So be it!
    [parry thrust]
    [ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s left arm off]
    ARTHUR: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
    BLACK KNIGHT: ‘Tis but a scratch.
    ARTHUR: A scratch? Your arm’s off!
    BLACK KNIGHT: No, it isn’t.
    ARTHUR: Well, what’s that then?
    BLACK KNIGHT: I’ve had worse.
    ARTHUR: You liar!
    BLACK KNIGHT: Come on you pansy!
    [parry thrust]
    [ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s right arm off]
    ARTHUR: Victory is mine!
    We thank thee Lord, that in thy merc-
    BLACK KNIGHT: Come on then.
    ARTHUR: What?
    BLACK KNIGHT: Have at you!
    ARTHUR: You are indeed brave, Sir knight, but the fight is mine.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Oh, had enough, eh?
    ARTHUR: Look, you stupid bastard, you’ve got no arms left.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Yes I have.
    ARTHUR: Look!
    BLACK KNIGHT: Just a flesh wound.
    ARTHUR: Look, stop that.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Chicken! Chicken!
    ARTHUR: Look, I’ll have your leg. Right!
    BLACK KNIGHT: Right, I’ll do you for that!
    ARTHUR: You’ll what?
    BLACK KNIGHT: Come ‘ere!
    ARTHUR: What are you going to do, bleed on me?
    BLACK KNIGHT: I’m invincible!
    ARTHUR: You’re a loony.
    BLACK KNIGHT: The Black Knight always triumphs!
    Have at you! Come on then.
    [ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s other leg off]
    BLACK KNIGHT: All right; we’ll call it a draw.
    ARTHUR: Come, Patsy.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Oh, oh, I see, running away then. You yellow
    bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to you.
    I’ll bite your legs off!

  3. Worry about what?

    Every manufacturer out there is working with fuel cells. If it’s the holy grail they’ll just licene it and it will become a standard.

    This isn’t a market where 1 company is going to be able to have an exclusive fueling option. If it’s not standardized then its a dead end or niche product at best.

    1. Doubtful Apple will go after the same market space Tesla occupies ($100K+ luxury sedans). There are just not enough of them sold every year. Apple will kill the legacy automobile industry at about $25K, 100mi range, rendering the bulk of their products expensive, fragile and wasteful. Only people too old to understand what has changed will still be willing to continue to pour their money into those money-sinks.

      1. Musk is trying to drive the price of electric vehicles and the batteries that power them down dramatically with high volume production. His vehicles won’t be $100K plus for long. He believes he’s right about electric powered vehicles and I wouldn’t bet against him. I don’t think Apple will either. An Apple car will never use hydrogen.

        1. Completely agree. I think Musk is spot on regarding the inherent dumbness of hydrogen as an energy storage system. I just think Apple will enter the market closer to the Honda Accord range than the Mercedes or Audi range. That may be wishful thinking, since I’ve owned at least one Honda since 1978. I buy them for the same reasons I buy Apple products, excellent value.

          It would not amaze me to see Tesla as the source for Apples battery packs or to find that Apple and Tesla are in cahoots behind the scenes.

          All the preceding prefaced by “If Apple does go into the automobile market…”

  4. Henri Winand, chief executive of Intelligent Energy refused to comment on rumours of Apple involvement. That’s telling. If I were Mr. Winand, and Apple had no involvement, I would very clearly declare, “No! We’ve done this on our own.”

    Apple has been working on improving battery technology for more than a decade. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Apple worked quite closely with Intelligent Energy on this project as a proof of concept exercise.

  5. Hydrogen “doesn’t require an enormous investment in refueling infrastructure”? Where are the stations presently? I would need to see some serious crash test safety data before considering a car with 6 gallons of hydrogen… lithium ion batteries are here to stay…they are just going to get better and cheaper with the Gigafactory

    1. Have you seen what even a phone size Li battery does under impact….??

      Nor do you want to be in a car with an exploding gasoline tank. Hydrogen in this kind of medium manufactured appropriately would certainly not make every car a Hindenburg in waiting…

  6. Hydrogen fuel cell is the wet dream of oil companies. Since producing hydrogen with electricity is too expensive, it is instead produced with natural gaz or oil. It takes more oil to drive a mile with oil produced hydrogen then with regular gasoline. Therefore hydrogen cost more then gasoline and pollutes more. What is the interest again?

  7. I love how people talk in absolutes and then have to eat their words later. It’s called innovation and invention. People are constantly solving problems thought to be unsolvable. I’ll wait and see what they come up with. In 1970 did anyone here imagine where we are today? I certainly didn’t.

    1. In 1982, my company bought a computer to manage a mailing list and bookstore operation. We needed two10MB drives. They were the size of trash can lids and cost 10K each.

      There are technologies out there just waiting to be discovered. And Apple has the money to fund these moon shots. Can’t wait!

  8. I don’t get it. Why would Apple invest in becoming an auto maker. Kinda silly. Seems more to me that Apple is building or looking into internal transport system for the campus and employees for work commute.

  9. As a viable competitor to gasoline each 30-40 mile range cell would need to cost under $2. Many much smaller fuel cell power sticks are currently selling for around $10, so the cost needs to significantly decrease. Overall, charging batteries via the grid or solar is still much cheaper, but the batteries eventually need to be replaced, which is very expensive. Some electric car detractors claim the current grid can not handle millions of electric cars.

    This could change if power generation efficiencies improve. For example, Lonnie Johnson recently claimed to have invented a ceramic battery that can store three times as much energy compared to lithium-ion batteries. This means the theoretical distance in a Tesla type vehicle could be pushed to 1000 miles per charge. This also means the average vehicle would only need to be charged once every month. It seems that is much more convenient than having to go to the store and replacing the hydrogen cells every week or so.

    Here is Lonnie explaining the technologies at TED:

  10. Just to chime-in briefly about the grid: if solar power is generated local to the car, say near a driveway or above a parking lot, then the grid doesn’t even come into play, as the juice is consumed before it hits the grid. If local supply is balanced to local demand, we can scale-up use of plugins now and let the grid catch up. IMHO anyway as a solar/ev user; would be interested in hearing further comment from someone in the biz who really understands it.

    1. That’s not how localized power generation works… In order to maintain a consistent amount of power you’re always connected to the grid and drawing power from it. Your local electricity generation gets fed into the grid and the electric company pays you for anything you generated. You then pay the difference for what you actually used.

      You could completely isolate yourself from the grid, but without a way to store the electricity you’d end up with “downtime” – Periods of time where no electricity is being generated, i.e. solar panels don’t work at night.

      Or you could add a switch, much in the same way back up generators are utilized, but opposite. When your generator stops producing electricity, you switch to the grid.

  11. Apple entered the cellphone market with Software and Hardware… two ingredients similar to Apples past with Computers. The cellphone basically was a mini-computer.

    With regard to Cars… how does Software and Hardware and Computing blend?

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