, , ,

So, everyone’s talking about the possibility of an Apple iCar; it looks certain that it’s got something to do with batteries (Apple’s being sued for recruiting scientists from A123) and arch-rival (wannabe arch-rival?) Samsung just bought out a company that makes automobile batteries…

So I was thinking – who sells more batteries today? Apple or Tesla? And because it’s not quite Apples to Apples I’ll try comparing battery-capacity.

Apple Battery Capacity 2014:

  • approx. 180m iPhones; the iPhone 6 has a 7.9 watt-hour battery, while the 6+ has 11 watt-hours. Presumably a decent chunk of the 180m phones were older 5, 5s, 4 etc. So let’s say the average capacity per iPhone is 8 watt-hours. Total: 180m * 8 = 1440 million watt-hours (i.e. 1.44 GWh aka Giga-Watt-hours)
  • approx: 60m iPads; the iPad Air 2 has a 27.6 Wh battery, while the Air (1) had a 32.9 Wh battery. Let’s hand-wave and say 28 Wh average. Total: 60m * 28 = 1680 million watt-hours (1.68 GWh)
  • approx: 19m MacBooks; MacBook Air’s have between 38 & 54 Wh, Pro’s 63.5 to 91 Wh. Let’s say 54 Wh on avg. Total: 19m * 54 Wh = (1.02 GWh)

Apple also sold a quite a few other devices with batteries, remotes, iPods, Beats headphones, Wireless keyboards and watt-have-you (haha), but’s let’s ignore it for now.


So Apple shipped 4 GWh (1.44+1.68+1.02=4.14 GWh) of battery capacity last year alone. That’s about $2 billion (cost) assuming Apple has the same cost as Tesla for battery capacity. I’d argue that it’s lower, but who knows.


“Tesla Motors may have the lowest rates for electric car batteries; the estimated battery costs for Tesla Motors is around US$200 dollars per kWh.” — From <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Motors>


Now Tesla shipped 17,300 Model S cars (http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/). They can have a 65kWh or 85kWh battery-pack. Say 75kWh on average. Total: 17.3k * 75kWH = 1.3GWh.


So there you have it. Apple shipped 3x as much battery capacity as Tesla in 2014.


Some more fun napkin math (let me know if it’s all wrong…): Apple’s batteries pack 25% more energy per gram than Tesla’ (so for the same weight, using Apple battery tech in Tesla’s could improve range by 25%!)


The iPhone 5s battery is 26g -> 7Wh 26g (26/7 = 3.7 g/Wh)



Tesla cells are : 10Wh 45g -> (45/10 = 4.5 g/Wh)



Apple’s batteries probably charge faster too (assuming that you can parallel charge the 1200 or so MacBook Air batteries that make up a single Tesla sized 65kWh pack).


Also interesting: Batteries like memory are super-high-margin. Like 60-70% gross.


Disclosure: I’m long Apple (+ve net delta) and have no position in Tesla.