Apple and Tesla’s equivalent battery demand
Tesla plans to make 35,000 Tesla S cars this year. According to Car and Driver magazine, the battery weighs 1323 pounds (600 kilograms — we’ll stick to metric weights moving forward):
That’s 21,000 (metric) tons of batteries.
For Apple devices the computation is more complicated — and more speculative — because the company publicizes battery capacity (in watt-hours) rather than weight. But after some digging around, I found the weight information for an iPhone 4S on the iFixit site: 26 grams. From there, I estimated that the weight of the larger iPhone 5S battery is 30 grams.
I reasoned that the weight/capacity ratio is probably the same for all Apple batteries, so if a 26g iPhone battery provides 5.25 watt-hrs, the iPad Air battery that yields 32.4 watt-hrs must weigh approximately 160g. Sparing you the details of the mix of iPad minis and the approximations for the various Macs, we end up with these numbers for 2014 (I’m deliberately omitting the iPod):
- 100M iPads @ 130g = 13,000 tons
- 200M iPhones @ 30g = 6,000 tons
- 20M Macs @ 250g = 5,000 tons
- Total Apple batteries = 24,000 metric tons
It’s a rough estimate, but close enough for today’s purpose: Apple and Tesla need about the same tonnage of batteries this year
Assuming Gassée is approximately right with his numbers and math, Apple and Tesla needing the same tonnage of batteries does make for an interesting factoid, but given the fact that the batteries used by both are different in both chemistry and dimension, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple is partnering with or investing in Tesla’s Gigafactory.