Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Elon Musk says he tried to sell Tesla to Apple in the ‘darkest days’ of the Model 3 program

Published Dec 23rd, 2020 7:31AM EST
Apple Car Rumors
Image: Apple Inc.

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

  • A few days ago, a report said that Apple is still developing its own self-driving electric car, detailing a breakthrough battery innovation the company is reportedly working on.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the Reuters story about Apple’s car plans, indicating that some of the rumored Apple battery innovations might already be used in Tesla cars.
  • Musk also claimed that he pitched Tesla to Apple for around $60 billion in the “darkest days” of the Model 3.

A report from Reuters said a few days ago that Apple is still interested in making its own self-driving car, with a tentative production set for 2024 at the earliest, essentially reviving the Apple Car rumor. The iPhone maker was rumored several years ago that it created a special division within the company to develop a vehicle of its own — Project Titan. As years passed, those rumors died down. The new rumor says that Apple is developing two technologies that might help it stand out in the self-driving electric car business. Apple is working on its own lidar system that can track the objects around the car and allow it to drive itself. The second one seems to be an even more impressive breakthrough. Apple is developing its own battery technology for electric cars that could extend the range significantly.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacted to the news on Twitter, addressing some of the report’s claims and saying that he tried to sell Tesla to Apple a few years ago for a fraction of what the company is worth now.

”It’s next level,” a person familiar with Apple’s car plans told Reuters, referring to Apple’s battery tech. “Like the first time you saw the iPhone.”

The report says Apple is making “monocell” batteries made of fused individual cells. This would eliminate battery modules and pouches. More active material could be packed inside the car. Moreover, the battery will use iron phosphate (LFP) tech, which will make it less likely to overheat than traditional lithium-ion batteries.

“Strange if true,” Musk said on Twitter in response to the report, explaining that Tesla might already be doing what Apple is rumored to be working on. He said that Tesla is already using iron-phosphate for medium range cars made in Shanghai. He also said that monocell batteries are “electrochemically impossible, as max voltage is [about] 100X too low.”

Maybe they meant cells bonded together, like our structural battery pack?” Musk asked before revealing that he considered selling Tesla to Apple in the “darkest days of the Model 3 program.

“I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value),” he said. “He refused to take the meeting.”

Tesla is currently worth more than $600 billion after a year where it saw massive growth that analysts can’t explain. Musk’s sale price would have been around $60 billion, a price tag that Apple could have afforded. Musk did not clarify when he pitched Tesla to Apple, but TechCrunch speculates that it was likely between 2017 and 2019.

Reuters might have revived the Apple Car rumor, but it’s still unclear how Apple would go about making its own car. The report speculated that Apple could either set up its own factories and supply chain or partner with a traditional carmaker.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.