Elon Musk has said he contacted Apple Inc’s Tim Cook “during the darkest days of the Model 3 program” to discuss the possibility of Apple buying the Tesla electric car company for “1/10th of our current value … He [Cook] refused to take the meeting”.
Musk’s comment followed reports that Apple is working on producing an electric car with advanced battery technology. In Twitter threads, Musk and others questioned the nature the technology, including what was referred to in reports as a “monocell” battery with lithium iron phosphate chemistry:
Strange, if true.
– Tesla already uses iron-phosphate for medium range cars made in our Shanghai factory.
– A monocell is electrochemically impossible, as max voltage is ~100X too low. Maybe they meant cells bonded together, like our structural battery pack?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2020
The disclosure that Musk approached Apple is not surprising. In 2013, seeking options to save the company amid problems with early sales, Musk struck a “handshake deal” for his friend Larry Page’s Google company to buy Tesla, according to the 2015 biography Elon Musk.
Ashlee Vance writes in the book that the deal was cancelled after a huge sales drive paid off. Tesla had sealed enough Model S orders to rescue its finances, partly by Musk turning staff from design, engineering, finance and other departments out of their offices to clinch sales, telling them: “If we don’t deliver these cars, we are fucked.”
Apple’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. Reports this week said the car might eventually be built by an outside manufacturing partner.