Apple refused to discuss Tesla acquisition possibility earlier: Elon Musk

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The billionaire owner of electric carmaker Tesla, Elon Musk, said he had approached Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, “during the darkest days of the Model 3 program,” to explore the possibility of the iPhone maker purchasing Tesla for a tenth of its current value.

“He refused to take the meeting”, said Mr. Musk while replying to a Twitter chain which cited a news about Apple looking to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024 with new battery technology.

During 2017 and 2018, Tesla struggled to ramp up high volume production of the Model 3 sedan, with Mr. Musk informing investors that the company was mired in “production hell” because of problems with automated production systems at its battery factory in Reno, Nevada.

Tesla overcame the issues, though, and has racked up a series of quarterly profits since then. The electric automaker became one of the most valuable companies to join the S&P 500 when it became part of the widely followed stock index. Tesla’s shares, however, ended 6.5 percent lower in its debut S&P 500, following reports of possible competition from Apple.

Apple’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. Central to the company’s strategy for auto production is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range.

Making a vehicle represents a supply chain challenge even for Apple, a company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronics products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car. It took Tesla 17 years before it finally turned a sustained profit making cars.

In the same Twitter chain, Musk said “monocell”, which Apple plans to use in its design, “is electrochemically impossible as max voltage is ~100X too low” unless they are bonded together.

Apple and Tesla declined to offer any more comments.