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Apple and other EV hopefuls chip away at auto industry pyramid

iPhone maker wooed Japanese A/C parts supplier for its car project

U.S. electric vehicle maker Rivian, which counts as its top shareholder, builds cars at a former Mitsubishi Motors factory. (Photo courtesy of Rivian Automotive)

TOKYO -- Two years ago this month, a man in a suit showed up at Japanese auto parts maker Sanden's Texas office. The man had a folder, and said he was from Apple.

The man, who introduced himself as a parts manager, said Apple wanted to make electric vehicles and needed Sanden's help on high-performance components, according to people familiar with the conversation. Slowly and deliberately, he presented schematics of an EV and air conditioner parts.

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