The auto industry and the tech world may be about to get a new power player: Apple reportedly is in talks to buy the high-performance car company McLaren, according to the Financial Times.
The two firms have been talking for several months about plans to have Apple make a strategic investment in the McLaren Technology Group or buy it outright, the article said, citing “three people briefed on the negotiations.”
McLaren Technology Group includes McLaren Automotive, McLaren Racing and McLaren Applied Technologies. Apple declined to comment on the report. McLaren did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rumors and reports about Apple’s oft-reported and never officially confirmed car project, reportedly codenamed Project Titan, have been swirling for years. Speculation that the tech giant would make its own car cooled earlier this year after Apple hired a high-ranking executive from Blackberry’s QNX car software company — a move that Bloomberg reported indicated that Apple was focusing more on designing car software. At the time, that report raised the idea that Apple might work with or buy a car manufacturer:
“The initiative is now prioritizing the development of an autonomous driving system, though it’s not abandoning efforts to design its own vehicle. That leaves options open should the company eventually decide to partner with or acquire an established car maker, rather than build a car itself.”
Many Apple watchers have advocated for Apple to buy Tesla, but Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has called such a deal “unlikely.” Musk has also scorned Apple’s car efforts, telling a German newspaper that he refers to Apple as “Tesla graveyard” because the tech firm hires so many engineers that Tesla has let go.
But Apple could be very attractive for McLaren, which has struggled to reach profitability. The British carmaker may be best known for its very high-end luxury supercars and its Formula One team, though it also has made forays into wearable technology, health care and electronics. It took the name McLaren Technology Group in 2015 to reflect its diversification strategy.
The focus on technology could represent a good culture alignment for Apple and McLaren, although McLaren is a much smaller manufacturer than could serve Apple’s massive customer base. The firm said at the time of its renaming that it produces just more than 1,600 cars per year.