back to article Reports pump fuel into iCar gossip: Apple in 'talks' with Tesla

Apple and Tesla reportedly met to discuss a deal that could clear the way for a Cupertino-designed iCar. The San Francisco Chronicle suggested that Apple and Tesla met last year to discuss a possible link-up. Citing an unnamed source, it claimed Apple's merger and acquisitions chief, Adrian Perica, met with Tesla CEO Elon …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hydrogen hybrid, NOT electric is the way of the future. Electric takes painfully long to charge and has limited range.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Why hydrogen? There are certainly better things to do with dwindling oil reserves than just burn them, and the cost, charge time and environmental nastiness of batteries aren't likely to improve as much as required, but H2 isn't much better. It's hard to make, hard to store and requires a whole new fuelling infrastructure. Some form of liquid fuel, such as biodiesel from algae or alcohol, in an Ampera-style series hybrid, seems far more practical all round.

    2. GettinSadda
      Mushroom

      Please read up on hydrogen, and then return with an answer to this question "where will the hydrogen come from?". Note, if your answer is from electrolysis you need to also explain how you will make it more efficient than simply using the same electricity to charge a battery (and I mean explain rather than just "it will be better - fool!")

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        I assume he means that the advantage of hydrogen is filling up is way faster than recharging a battery; and that the loss of energy efficiency is too small to be considered in regards of this advantage.

        1. Steve Todd

          The loss of efficiency for hydrogen is huge

          The best numbers I've seen are that you get only 40% efficiency using electrolysis to make liquid hydrogen, and that's after you've lost efficiency generating your electricity to start with. That and you need a hugely expensive fuel cell to convert it back to electricity. Exchangeable battery packs will work out much cheaper and more efficient.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: The loss of efficiency for hydrogen is huge

            Exchangeable battery packs will work out much cheaper and more efficient.

            Not when you do the maths. Work out how many cars a busy petrol station refuels each day, then look at how many battery packs they need to store, and how much electricity they need to recharge them. It is completely unfeasible, even if you could persaude manufacturers to standardise on a battery form factor.

            1. Steve Todd
              Stop

              Re: The loss of efficiency for hydrogen is huge

              Most cars wont need to visit a petrol station, they can refuel from the domestic grid overnight. The alternative is shipping cryogenic hydrogen about and storing it on site. That is both wildly inefficient and dangerous.

              Tesla already provide two solutions to model S owners, a fast charge that basically allows time for a meal break or a battery swap. It will be a while before batteries can be standardised across all manufacturers, but the principle is still way better than hydrogen.

              1. Mage Silver badge

                Re: Domestic Grid

                No country has a Domestic Grid that can take even 20% of people using Electric cars.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Domestic Grid

                  Mage, are You German by any Chance?

                  Or just a broken Shiftkey You have?

                  1. Mage Silver badge

                    Re: broken Shiftkey You have

                    NO IT IS NOT BROKEN - Sorry

                    Random Capitalisation isn't as bad as A Man from Mars Shirley?

                    The NSA can probably connect all my posts under different identities by case analysis. i think i need to disconnect it or something.

                    sorry if it annoys you. actually i barely know german and have a poorer understanding of its capitalisation rules than english.

                2. GettinSadda

                  Re: Domestic Grid

                  "No country has a Domestic Grid that can take even 20% of people using Electric cars."

                  I wonder who can validate this comment? I know, let's ask the guy that controls the UK power grid:

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIxSaUXfbyM

                3. Weapon
                  Devil

                  Re: Domestic Grid

                  The US grid can easily sustain 20% of people using electric cars. Most electric car charging will be done at night during offpeak hours. During offpeak there is plenty of underutilized capacity. the day charging is not an issue either since fast charging is done through DC which can use a battery as a buffer.

                  1. Charles Manning

                    The details will get you every time

                    "Using a battery as a buffer". Well that would work if batteries were efficient. Unfortunately they are not.. Using a battery as a buffer means you get whacked by the charging inefficiency and then the discharging inefficiency of the battery + the inefficincies of any control electronics that go around this (considerable when dealing with 10kW in a domestic setting). You're lucky if you see 70%.

                    Yes, there is spare capacity at night, but from some back of the envelope calculations I doubt it would be enough.None of it is going to be renewable either. As we get more green pressure on generation, the shift is towards more PV which does not generate at night. Hydro depletes lakes, therefore the slack would have to be taken up by coal, nukes, etc.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The loss of efficiency for hydrogen is huge

                Yeah we'll just run a cable from a socket in the front room through an open window, across the street (hopefully people won't trip) and 30 yards down the road to where we managed to find a car parking space.

                Or is the assumption that every residential terraced street in, London for example, will have charging points every 15 feet on both sides of the road?

                Or did you just assume that everybody has a garage or a driveway? I know everybody who can afford a Tesla probably has one but I've lived in 8 properties since I was a child, 1 of them had off street parking.

                Personally I agree with OP, an Ampera style hybrid, pure electric drive with a small hydrocarbon based generator on board seems to be the sensible direction to go until something better comes along. People with garages/driveways and short commutes can be purely electric, people without can be mostly electric especially if their place of work has charging. Everyone can still drive X hundred miles if they need to and just top up with the existing infrastructure.

                Finally, engineers get to make generators better/smaller/faster/more-efficient/quieter > competition > invention > profit.

                1. MooseNC

                  Re: The loss of efficiency for hydrogen is huge

                  Yes, putting in outlets is so difficult to do...

                  Wait, what's this???

                  http://alaskarella.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/dsc_0011.jpg

                  http://alaskarella.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/198380_10150159176932642_616212641_8531010_1066330_n-1.jpg

                  Whining and complaining about something that "can't" be done while it is already being done on a large scale is quite asinine.

              3. Charles Manning

                Grid charging sucks

                Grid charging is fine while electric cars are just used by a few. However massive problems emerge when you try scale up the usage.

                The generation and distribution could not cope with the added load of having, say, 20% of cars being electric.

                It does not mater how smart the Tesla charger is, or how cool it looks, the leccy has to come from a generator some where and through some wires to get there.

                Pretty much all generation is maxed out world wide. There is no surplus generation. Thus, the only way to get extra capacity is to build more generation.

                Oh, btw, a couple of solar panels on the roof won't do it either. First off, you'll want to charge at night and the moon is not very useful. Secondly, to provie the juice for a 10kW "slow charger" needs about 150 m^2 of solar panels.

                So basically we're talking about yuppie toys, not practical transport solutions.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The loss of efficiency for hydrogen is huge

              Exactly. Volume beats you.

              A friend of mine at one time had the record for the deepest hole drilled in the North Sea beyond rig spec. I asked him why that was impressive (I knew less then), he said "because I figured out where and how to store all that extra pipe.

              And that, as you correctly point out, is why makes battery operated cars will always be a niche operation until super fast recharging is a reality or batteries are trivially small.

          2. Charles Manning

            Re: The loss of efficiency for hydrogen is huge

            " That and you need a hugely expensive fuel cell to convert it back to electricity."

            Hugely inefficient too. Only 40% or so will turn into leccy,

            Of that only 90% will make it through the power control electronics.

            Of that only 80% or so turns into mechanically useful power in the electric motor.

            That's only 28% efficinet.

            Going back and multiplying by the leccy->hydrogen efficency (40%), we're down to about 11% effiiency for leccy->hydrogen->fuelcells->motor->

            Of course real numbers would be lower since hydrogen is a bastard to handle and store (~90% efficient) and cars are not the best environment for fuel cells. So if you get 10% efficincy you're probably doing pretty well...

            And we have not yet even taken into consideration the inefficiencies in generation and distribution.

            Makes that 25% efficiency of an ICEbased system look pretty good.

    3. Graham Dawson

      It's also worth mentioning that hydrogen is ridiculously reactive with just about anything you use to store it. Liquified, it only contains about a quarter of the energy by volume as petrol, and even to achieve that requires cryogenic cooling. Compression adds to the complexity and the danger, because now you have a cryogenic, highly reactive liquid stored at high pressure. It's pretty much just a bomb waiting to go off at that point.

      And to top it off, hydrogen leaks through just about ever seal we can contrive.

      The only way to store hydrogen effectively is to stabilise it in a compound. You can oxidise it and get water. Or you could pick some other element, something known to form stable bonds through a wide range of temperatures. Carbon, for instance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't write off Hydrogen as 'too difficult to store' just yet ...

        http://www.theengineer.co.uk/energy-and-environment/news/aluminium-compound-holds-promise-for-hydrogen-storage/1017430.article

        1. Weapon

          It makes more logical sense to use Aluminum-Air batteries.

      2. Malmesbury

        Hydrogen powered cars are actually electric cars....

        They have a fuel cell instead of a battery - that is pretty much it. In fact Hydrogen powered cars may well have a small battery to smooth out power spikes and for storing power from regenerative braking.

        Refueling is an issue with Hydrogen. If you are using cryogenic hydrogen, then you can't pour it fast. If you do, lots of boil off. Then you have to cool the system down to take the hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen on room temperature metal - no no. Then you have to purge the lines of air.

        It all can be done. But the idea you will slop the hydrogen in petrol style is sadly not true.

        So the question is whether the inconveniences of hydrogen will outweigh the inconveniences of batteries.

        IMHO it looks like there is more room inside the laws of physics to improve batteries...

      3. Tom 11

        @ GD

        While premise of your nay-saying is sound enough, I have evidence to the contrary. I work in the materials science sector and I can tell you without jeopardising my job by going into details that Hydrogen storage for automotive purposes is much more advanced then you seem to believe. I have seen a pressure vessel for this purpose capable of over 3000 atmospheres, and that includes the seals and delivery valve system.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Flame

      Synthetic LPG

      Use Solar power or Fusion power, waste carbon or CO2 and Sea water. The best way to transport solar energy from very sunny places to very cloudy places. You can't transport Electricity that distance.

      Hydrogen is horrible stuff to store and to transport.

      Electric cars are Niche and using Batteries (loss of electricity charging & In Grid plus energy cost of making and recycling) may be higher energy cost than synthetic LPG. Which solves all the problems of hydrogen. Also existing Petrol cars have over 40 years experience with conversion kits. Petrol stations already can stock it. Distribution system / network already exists world wide. The only issue is same as with Battery cars. Where to get the clean Electricity in the first place?

      1. Weapon

        Re: Synthetic LPG

        Most of US has pretty good solar potential. Yes, even the cloudy places. Transportation of the energy in the form of LPG would be less efficient than having solar even in those cloudy places. In the UK the better option is hydro. And use solar to balance peak loads.

        The energy cost of making and recycling is not that much. And even with none clean energy, battery cars are still cleaner than petrol cars and much more efficient.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Hydrogen hybrid, NOT electric is the way of the future. Electric takes painfully long to charge and has limited range."

      I bet you own an iPhone! I say this because your comment would have been valid in the last decade.

      Please save face, *read up* on the *latest* developments.

  2. JDX Gold badge

    I know an iCar gets a lot of stick...

    ... mainly along the lines "why tie a car to a specific company".

    But as an optional add-on/customisation, it seems like it could sell to me. Car displays/navigation "powered by Apple", well why not? (jokes about Apple maps aside of course).

    I wouldn't want one because I'm not too into tech in cars, but it seems at least sellable and that's the thing which matters.

    1. MrXavia

      Re: I know an iCar gets a lot of stick...

      As an optional extra, fine as long as there are alternatives and to have nav/phone integration you don't need iStuff...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I know an iCar gets a lot of stick...

        Christ on a bike... I was getting quite excited by the idea of Apple getting innovative again until you mentioned the satnav. Apple's track record on that score is not exactly brilliant.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: I know an iCar gets a lot of stick... @TRT

          I thought Apple's recent track record on mapping was quite encouraging: they've been slowly and methodically fixing the problems without calling a press conference every three months to announce they're "Revolutionising maps. Again." or whatever. Much better behaviour than I think any of us might have predicted.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: As an optional extra, fine

        There is no way there would be a whole Apple-specific model. Developing the core model is a massive undertaking, to the extend the same base model is sometimes used by more than one manufacturer, so there is no way an "iCar" wouldn't be a rebadged version of something else.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As an optional extra, fine

          one word ... Swatch

          which pretty much negates quite a few bombastic comments here.

  3. Chris Gray 1
    Meh

    range, charging

    @ Anonymous first poster:

    Have you noticed how the charge time and range have been steadily improving over the last few years? Do you have a reason to believe they will not continue to do that?

    Have you also noticed that hydrogen storage is difficult/expensive/dangerous (pick 2)?

    Yes, battieries can be difficult/expensive/dangerous as well, but why switch away from a technology that lots of people are working furiously on to a technology that not so many people are working on? Note also that typical hydrogen production is a less-than-perfect use of electricity, and so your hybrid is less efficient overall?

    1. fandom Silver badge

      Re: range, charging

      Have you noticed there is a 'Reply' button bellow posts that makes you answer appear just below the original post?

      Come on! Is it that hard?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: range, charging

      >Have you noticed how the charge time and range have been steadily improving over the last few years?

      Only if you hold it right or have one of those rubber band things...

  4. marioaieie
    Gimp

    Please NO

    I hope it's just rumors. I would like to buy a Tesla...

    [we need an anti-apple icon. And anti-microsoft, anti-android, anti-linux, ecc..]

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Please NO

      What's the problem. You want a red, shiny thing that occasionally catches fire, they'll offer you a white shiny thing that occasionally catches fire. No big difference.

  5. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Will they have apple trained mechanics?

    Hi Marvin,

    Good day to you and thank you for bringing your iCar in to the iGarage. This is <insert made up name here> from the iCar Support team and I'll be happy to assist you today.

    I understand that your car just spontaneously combusted. I realize why you're bringing this to our concern and I know how eager you are to have this issue resolved. Don't worry, I'll do my best to fix this for you.

    I am pleased to inform you that your issue has now been resolved, and we have reclassified your fire as a "feature" - you vehicle has a super warm heater! A software update will be applied. Please note you may not be able to drive 2 years while we update its software remotely. It is very important that you wait the full 2 years before attempting to drive your iCar again. Please let me know if you are still unable to drive your iCar after 2 years and I'll do my best to assist you with this issue again.

    Please let me know if this resolves your concern. If you have other questions about this issue, please don't hesitate to tell me and I would be more than happy to address them for you.

    Thank you very much for being part of the iCar family and I hope you have a great day.

    Sincerely [sic]

    <made up name>

  6. dogged

    Oh great.

    A highly-polished G-Whizz in aluminium and chrome with rounded corners.

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Ok car drive me to a takaway please.

    I'm sorry Dave I cant do that, I have to take you to our biggest sponsor.

    Wanna go to a free festival???

  8. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Recharge

    I don't know about an iCar, but I do like the idea of coupling a phone to a Tesla's 85kWHr battery and having a device that you only need to charge once a year (or, come to that: run your house for a week). Though you might need a shopping trolley to haul it around in - just so long as it doesn't catch fire.

  9. Babbit55
    Coat

    So when it gets a fault will you be driving it wrong?

  10. 404 Silver badge
    Coat

    Have to be careful though, hidden teslas are pretty nasty...

    ;)

  11. Big_Ted
    Devil

    Its already been done

    By Sinclair with the C5 http://www.sinclairc5.com/

    So its obvious that Apple will now build one, patent it and claim to have reinvented the car.......

    1. Mintyboy
      Joke

      Re: Its already been done

      And don't forget they will also patent the wheel.. and other round things

      1. Mer Ner
        Joke

        Re: Its already been done

        I'm sure their lawyers could argue that a car classifies as a mobile device, so they're probably already covered.

  12. Captain Hogwash
    Coat

    Would I be allowed to drive on the roads?

    Or just around the walled garden?

  13. Steve Todd

    More than one possible reason for the talks

    Apple have IIRC patents on lithium battery technology that they use to get cells shaped precisely to fit the available space. Tesla could be interested in that.

    Dashboard integration of entertainment functions is another possibility.

    Tesla are working on cheaper offering than the Model S, which uses a (presumably very expensive) 17 inch touch screen. They could be trying the idea of replacing that with an iPad in the upcoming model.

    I can't honestly see Apple wanting to go into car building though, or thinking about buying Tesla, it doesn't match up with their approach to entering new markets and car making is too far from their existing markets.

  14. Barney Rubble

    Inevitable...

    Wouldn't want to get locked in

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: Inevitable...

      and have to buy a specially designed and patented coat hanger.

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