Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed on Tuesday that he reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook “during the darkest days of the Model 3 program” to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla for one-tenth of its current value.
“He refused to take the meeting,” said Musk replying to a Twitter chain, which cited a ‘people familiar with the matter’-type Reuters story about Apple looking to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024 with a new battery technology. The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch.
During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discussthe possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2020
Tesla has had a remarkable year in which a meteoric stock price run turned it into the most valuable vehicle manufacturer on the planet. Tesla has a market valuation in excess of US$658 billion and was invited to join the S&P 500 where it is weighted as the fifth biggest company. It is more valuable than every other US vehicle manufacturer combined.
In 2017, Tesla was still haemorrhaging money and had not yet produced an all-electric vehicle at high volume. Musk has previously said that Tesla was “single-digit weeks” away from collapse in 2017 as he directed all of the company’s resources towards ramping up production of the Model 3 sedan. Tesla ultimately survived and has since gone on to roll out the Model Y SUV, announced new vehicles like the Cybertruck and is expanding with new factories in Berlin, Germany, and Austin, Texas.
Apple has been developing a lithium iron phosphate battery that can be packaged more tightly in the car’s battery pack, cutting down on weight while increasing the potential energy density, according to Reuters‘ story. Musk pointed out on Twitter on Tuesday that Tesla is already using iron phosphate batteries in some of the cars it’s making in China.
“Strange, if true,” Musk wrote.
Tesla and Apple have swapped a lot of talent over the past decade. When rumours of an “Apple car” first emerged in 2015, Elon Musk joked that Apple was a “Tesla graveyard”.
“If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding,” he said. Musk said at the time that an electric car was “the next logical thing” for Cook and Apple to work on.
“It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches,” Musk said.
Apple has not responded to Musk’s tweet.