Tesla CEO and Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk on Tuesday recalled how he once rushed to Apple CEO Tim Cook "during the darkest days of the Model 3 program" to sell Tesla Inc at one-tenth of its current value but was refused the meeting with Tim Cook.
In 2017-18, Tesla was struggling to ramp up high volume production of the Model 3 sedan, leaving Musk unable to convince investors who were mired in "production hell" because of problems with automated production systems at its battery factory in Reno, Nevada.
"He refused to take the meeting", said Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla. In a tweet, he said Apple was looking to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024 with a new battery technology and he saw the opportunity to sell his company but received no positive reply from the iPone maker.
However, Tesla recovered after and racked up a string of quarterly profits to reach the present stage when the electric automaker has emerged as one of the most valuable companies to join the S&P 500 after raising funds from an IPO recently. However, the shares of Tesla ended 6.5% lower in its S&P 500 debut, after the news of potential competition from Apple hit the markets.
Apple has been working on its automobile project 'Titan' since 2014 trying to design its own vehicle from the start instead of taking over Tesla or any other potential suitor mid-way. It's banking on its own new battery design called "monocell", which Musk said "is electrochemically impossible as max voltage is ~100X too low" unless they are bonded together.
Apple's Titan strategy
Apple declined to comment on a Reuters report but it's known that the Taiwan supplier Hota Industrial Manufacturing has been asked to increase the production of automotive parts ahead of a launch as early as September 2021, according to a report in the Taipei-based Economic Daily News. As per a Reuters report, Apple has a 2024 timeframe for delivering its self-driving vehicle, with a newly designed battery technology, most probably the 'monocell' fitted in it.
The sudden interest in Apple Car project is attributed to a recent leadership reshuffle inside the company with Artificial Intelligence (AI) chief John Giannandrea taking over the self-driving car project under him. It ishows new shift from hardware engineering to AI technology.
Even Apple's long time partner Foxconn is being roped into the Project Titan to supply several micro segments required for the EV car as the Taiwan partner of iPhone-manufacturing since the days of Steve Jobs, opened its own open-vehicle platform to ship EV development kit for manufacturers in October.
However, Musk believes that Apple's take on EV self-drving cars project is distant. "Cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches," Musk told Handelsblatt in 2015. "You can't just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car."
But Tesla, valued at $616 billion, is unable to match the world demand for EVs and no wonder, Apple is eying this segment. His contention that manufacturing of cars isn't as easy as outsourcing iPhones may not stand the test of AI technology as Aple is keen to divest its product segment.
No wonder, Tesla chief Elon Musk's tweet revealing the truth that Apple refused his 'sweetened offer' two years ago has bounced back hitting his company shares in the market. And, all eyes will be on Apple now.