Computer giant Apple could soon put its logo on an electric car – and it might be the Tesla Motors brand.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and his mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica have met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, but neither Apple nor Musk will confirm the meeting.
However, reaction to it in the US this week has pushed up the value of Tesla stock on Wall Street to over US$200, a rise of around 4 per cent. Tesla now has a market value of US$25 billion. Apple has US$160 billion in cash.
The San Francisco Chronicle says the secret meeting took place at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, just down the road from Tesla’s base in Fremont, a city in the San Francisco Bay area.
It was held late last year, around the same time as US industry analysts were suggesting Apple buy into Tesla – not necessarily for its electric car technology but to get the inventive Musk on board to help plot future Apple products, in much the same way as the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs did.
The newspaper noted that the high-profile people involved in the meeting suggests genuine intent by Apple to at least explore a potential partnership with Tesla, especially in the development of battery technology. Apple’s Perica certainly wouldn’t have gone along for the ride, it said.
The South African-born Musk is no stranger to Silicon Valley. He founded online service PayPal. He is the CEO of Tesla Motors and the CEO of SpaceX, which funded the first privately funded vehicles to reach orbit.
Tesla makes the Model S, a luxury plug-in sedan that has the longest range of any car of its type. It is expected to report that it sold 20,000 of them in 2013. The Model S will go on sale in Australia later this year. A handful of New Zealanders have placed deposits. The car’s center console is dominated by a tablet-like 37cm touch screen, with ready access to the Internet.
Apple has taken an interest in cars, with iPhone voice Siri showing up in several makes, including Chevrolet, Ferrari, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz. Apple CEO Cook has said the company plans to enter “new categories” this year. “We’re not ready to talk about it, but we’re working on some really great stuff,” he said.
Apple’s latest iOS system, which links the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch to a car’s dashboard display, is expected next month. It has the backing of big name brands like BMW, Toyota and Ford.