According to a report published in the Financial Times, Apple has approached McLaren Technology Group about a potential acquisition. McLaren is known for making cutting-edge supercars for the road and its competitive Formula One team, among other things.
Buying a niche supercar maker seems like a strange move for the world’s largest consumer technology company, but it could say a lot about Apple’s ambitions in the car space.
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The FT says that Apple is considering a “full takeover” of McLaren or a “strategic investment,” citing sources familiar with the negotiations. A significant tie-up between Apple and McLaren would see the former gain access to McLaren’s extensive research into the future of the automotive industry, including work on advanced materials and on-board computer systems.
A major deal is out of the ordinary for Apple, but it makes sense given other rumors we’ve heard about the company’s self-driving car plans, codenamed Project Titan. A recent New York Times report said that Titan was “getting a reboot,” with dozens of engineers laid off.
It would make sense that if Apple became frustrated with the work happening internally, it might turn buying a small but well-reputed car company to purchase expertise.
McLaren Automotive produced revenues of around $585 million last year, which would probably make a full acquisition one of Apple’s most expensive deals to date. In 2014, Apple bought Beats for $3 billion, and last year invested $1 billion into a Chinese ride-hailing service. A McLaren deal would probably be on the same order of magnitude, with the loss-making company reportedly valued around $2 billion.
However, the New York Times is now reporting that Apple also held acquisition talks with Lit Motors, a maker of electric motorbikes.