Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, said Tuesday that he had once reached out to Apple's CEO Tim Cook to propose that the iPhone maker acquire its then troubled electric car company – but Mr. Cook “refused to accept to attend the meeting ".
Mr Musk tweeted the anecdote Tuesday afternoon after it was reported that Apple had made progress in its own efforts to develop an electric car for consumers.
He had contacted Mr. Cook "during the darkest days of the Model 3 program," according to the tweet – presumably a reference to mid-2017, when Tesla got into what Mr. Musk once called "manufacturing hell" within a month of bankruptcy.
Mr Musk said Tesla was "1/10 of our current value" at that point, which would suggest Apple could have bought the electric vehicle pioneer for about $ 60 billion.
A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Mr. Musk had reached out to Mr. Cook but could not remember the date. Apple and Tesla declined to comment.
Apple's ambitions in building a car, a project called Titan, date back at least to 2014.
In 2016, it was widely reported that it scaled back its ambitions and laid off 190 people. Even so, autonomous technologies continued to be tested on public roads, and a March 2018 report by the California Department of Motor Vehicles said Apple had 45 test vehicles on the road – a greater number in the state at the time than anyone but Cruise, GM's self-drive business. Drive was also bought in mid-2019. AI, an autonomous start-up for driving technology.
The latest Reuters report on Monday cited unnamed sources discussing Apple's plans to build a consumer vehicle with self-developed battery technology by 2024. This helped the group's shares rise 2.9 percent on Tuesday.
The gain added $ 59 billion to the market value of Apple stock, a value that is higher than BMW's market value. Tesla shares fell 1.5 percent on Tuesday.
Analysts have suggested that Tesla could be one of the biggest losers if Apple leveraged its sizeable resources, brand attractiveness, and operational logistics to enter the electric vehicle market.
Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said Apple is "far more competitive" than established auto companies "for Tesla because it has" key ingredients that we believe will be critical to success in the future auto industry. "
In a communication to customers, he wrote: "We believe that the value of the service opportunities embedded in the Internet of Cars could potentially dwarf the auto business itself."
The Apple threat has at various times resulted in Mr Musk rejecting rumors of an upcoming competition. In 2015, for example, the Tesla boss was asked whether Apple had allegedly poached "important engineers" from Tesla.
"Important engineers?" he has answered. "They hired people we fired. We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Cemetery'. If you can't make it at Tesla, you work at Apple. I'm not kidding."