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With the iPhone 7 release behind us, focus online has begun to shift towards some of Apple’s other projects – a Financial Times report issued this morning has re-ignited talks of a so-called ‘Apple Car’, a rumor that has persisted online for almost two years now.
According to Financial Times, Apple has approached McLaren Technology Group, a British conglomerate whose subsidiaries include the McLaren Racing Limited Formula One racing team and McLaren Automotive, manufacturers of luxury, high-performance sports cars, about a potential acquisition. According to the report, which cites “three people briefed on the negotiations”, claims that negotiations have been going on for several months, and that McLaren would likely be valued somewhere between $1.3 and $2 billion.
The report claims that Apple’s interest in McLaren would center on “its technology, engineering prowess and patent portfolio.” A recent Bloomberg article claims that Apple would more likely make a large investment in McLaren than purchase it outright, but also claims that Apple is also in talks to purchase electric motorbike startup Lit Motors, who, according to the report, owns “several international self-driving patents.”
After the Financial Times report surfaced, however, McLaren issued an official statement, which states: “We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment.” A report by Jalopnik claims that a “source at McLaren” went even further with their statement: “It’s not true at all. There’s no chatter, there’s no acquisition.” Interestingly enough, Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times subsequently tweeted, “Obviously we stand by our story despite McLaren’s statement.”
Confusion aside, this is the first we’ve heard of Apple’s automotive project, dubbed “Project Titan”, since the July hiring of former head of the car software unit of Blackberry Dan Dodge. A July Bloomberg article claimed that Project Titan had shifted its strategy away from developing an Apple designed and branded vehicle, and more towards the development of an autonomous driving system that would leave the option open for Apple “should the company eventually decide to partner with or acquire an established car maker, rather than building a car itself.” The acquisition of, or investment in McLaren would be an interesting move for Apple. McLaren is known for their production of high-end, high-performance sports cars – the manufacturing process of each automobile is often done mostly, if not entirely by hand, and the company only produces a few thousand cars per year, making it an unlikely match for Apple if they are looking to mass-produce automobiles. Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarn, however, told Financial Times that “the things McLaren are investing in aligns with what Apple is interested in holistically. If you’re reading between the lines on a lot of Apple’s moves, it’s clear that new materials, new manufacturing processes and new techniques across the board are a huge part of Apple’s strategy.”
Apple has, of course, declined to issue a statement regarding the matter. McLaren’s statement may put an end to online chatter, but many still speculate that Apple’s acquisition of, or investment in the company is still a possibility – even if it’s a far-fetched one.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]