Technology

What's Up With Apple: 'Ideal Partner' for Apple Car, New Ethics Website

While news about an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) search for a partner has lately focused on Asia, one analyst firm is suggesting that Apple should be looking to Europe, specifically to Bavaria, home of Germany’s premium BMW.

Bloomberg reports that analysts Arndt Ellinghorst and Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein called BMW “an ideal partner for Apple” in a note to clients:

Both companies have a leading innovation claim, superior brand equity and design and are excellent in global manufacturing and value chain management.

However, the very reasons Ellinghorst and Sacconaghi give in favor of the partnership also work against it. BMW already has 13 electrified models in its lineup, ranging from the 2021 Mini hardtop priced at $29,900 to the 2020 BMW i8 that carries a starting price tag of $147,500. The company offers electrified cars in 74 markets around the world.

BMW sold an estimated 193,000 electrified vehicles last year and is aiming to double that number in 2021. That number includes all-electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). The company said in January that it plans to double the number of electrified models its offers to 25 by 2023 with half being fully electrics.

Why would BMW want to build cars for a company that would certainly become a major competitor? More likely is an expanded deal between the two that would build on Apple’s CarPlay system. BMW has incorporated CarPlay into its i3 and i8 EVs and the infotainment system is available in all of BMW’s other models.

Apple on Wednesday launched a new Ethics and Compliance website touting the company’s “Business Conduct and Compliance policies.” A little digging leads you to reports the company has filed on required topics like conflict minerals and others that are not required, like the company’s supplier list and its supplier code of conduct.

According to a chart in the supplier responsibility section of the new website, over the six-year period between 2014 and 2019, Apple suppliers that ranked as top performers for labor, human rights, environment and health and safety assessments rose from 26% to 82%. Low-performing suppliers dipped from 14% in 2014 to less than 1% in 2019.

Apple also noted that more than 550,000 employees last year completed “individual courses to help them navigate and understand application of our policies.” The company also said that it trains eligible contractors on its “expectations for ethical behavior.”