Update: McLaren Automotive CEO Michael Flewitt has told Bloomberg that the company “is not in discussion with Apple about any potential investment” at the moment. Whether this applies strictly to McLaren Automotive or extends to the entire McLaren Technology Group remains to be seen; we’ll bring you additional updates as they become available.
Further update: We contacted McLaren Automotive regarding the report and received the following statement, which mirror’s Flewitt’s: “We can confirm that McLaren is not in any discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment.”
According to a report by the Financial Times, Apple has expressed an interest in purchasing, or at least heavily investing in, McLaren. The news follows on the heels of another recent report that suggested Apple was in the process of scaling back its nascent automaking aspirations, going so far as to lay off staff associated with its “Project Titan” autonomous car project.
One way to interpret the news — assuming we can take it at face value — is that the acquisition of McLaren would allow Apple to outsource the nuts-and-bolts automotive engineering side of its long-rumored, still-sketchy Apple Car enterprise, allowing it to focus on design, software development and marketing. And if that’s the case, the Apple/McLaren pairing may not be quite as insane as it seems at first blush.
When we think of McLaren, we immediately think of its driver-focused supercars (and hypercars) and racing machines — not quite the autonomous podcars-of-the-people we’d expect from Apple. But McLaren isn’t just an automaker; a wide range of divisions, subsidiaries and interests sit under the McLaren Technology Group umbrella. Its experience in carbon-fiber manufacturing processes and complex vehicle control systems, to name just two examples, would lift heavy burdens from an Apple team trying to reinvent these various wheels in-house.
The Financial Times report suggests that, should a complete takeover happen, the deal could be valued from $1.5 billion to $2 billion. That’s less than the $3 billion Apple paid for the headphone-making Beats Electronics in 2014, and Apple certainly isn’t hurting for cash at the moment.
Still, we’ll take all this with a grain of salt until we get confirmation from either of the companies involved — though that won’t stop us from imagining what a McLaren-built Apple Car would look like.
Maybe Ron Dennis can convince them to keep the steering wheel.