Updated on 9-21-2016 by Alex Kalogiannis: Updated with McLaren’s official denial of the news as well as a tweet from Financial Times reporter Tim Bradshaw standing by the initial report.
Sources close to Apple recently revealed the tech giant has significantly scaled back Project Titan, a secret division allegedly assigned the Herculean task of designing a car. Now, a new report claims the company is looking to crack open its war chest to invest in British supercar manufacturer and engineering firm McLaren Technology in order to fast-track its way into the auto industry.
Talks are on-going, according to the Financial Times. Apple hasn’t decided whether it’s wiser to buy McLaren outright, or simply make a strategic investment in the small company. Either way, it would gain access to McLaren’s vast expertise in the field of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum, as well as to the mechanical and automotive manufacturing knowledge that it all but lacks.
McLaren exclusively builds high-end supercars, and it’s not currently evaluating a downmarket move, but it recently announced plans to make a sizable investment in electrification over the coming years. That means buying the company would also give Apple access to the components needed to manufacture advanced gasoline-electric hybrid and battery-electric drivetrains. There’s no indication that Apple is interested in building a sports car capable of running alongside high-performance Ferrari- and Lamborghini-badged machines, so don’t expect the iMac name to appear on a powerful, race-winning coupe developed at McLaren’s headquarters in Woking.
The McLaren Technology group is broken up into several divisions. It controls 80 percent of McLaren Automotive, the firm responsible for designing cars like the 570S (pictured), the 675LT, and the sold-out P1. McLaren Technology also owns the moderately successful McLaren Formula One racing team, and an engineering arm named McLaren Applied Technologies that dabbles in diverse markets including transportation, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and energy.
Sources familiar with Apple’s acquisition plans told Financial Times that McLaren Technology is value at between £1 and £1.5 billion, sums that convert to $1.3 and $1.9 billion, respectively, at the current conversion rate. Apple and McLaren have both declined to comment on the report, so it’s too early to tell when and if the acquisition will take place.
Since this news was reported, McLaren is reported to have denied these claims. Digital Trends spoke to a representative at McLaren who responded with “We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment.”
That should be official enough to quell the rumor, but Tim Bradshaw from Financial Times has tweeted that the publication stands by the claims made in the initial article.
Obviously we stand by our story despite McLaren’s statement. https://t.co/MalTHATZdM
— Tim Bradshaw (@tim) September 21, 2016
Seems like a stalemate for now until we hear anything further.