Musk confirms talks with Apple but pours cold water on likelihood of acquisition

20 Feb 2014

Pictured: Elon Musk at the Dublin Web Summit in October

Tech wunderkind Elon Musk has confirmed that Tesla has had talks with Apple but said that any chance of Apple entering the electric vehicle market through buying Tesla is very unlikely.

Last weekend the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Apple’s mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Cupertino last spring.

This revelation sparked fierce speculation Apple may enter the burgeoning e-car business – and why not, Tesla cars run on what are effectively giant laptop batteries.

However, in an interview last night on Bloomberg Television Musk said that while talks did take place, any chance of Apple buying Tesla any time soon was “very unlikely.”

He said: “We had conversations with Apple, I can’t comment on whether those revolved around any kind of acquisition.”

Licence to thrill

tesla model s

South Africa-born Musk (42) established PayPal in 1999 and sold it three years later to eBay for US$1.5bn in stock. This was followed by SpaceX in 2002, with US$100m of his own fortune which was awarded a US$1.6bn NASA contract in 2008 to develop its Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft.

In 2009, SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately funded vehicle to put a satellite into Earth’s orbit and NASA has selected SpaceX to be part of the first programme that entrusts private companies to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in a deal worth potentially up to US$3.1bn.

Musk is also known as co-founder of Tesla Motors, the innovative company behind the Roadster and Model S electric vehicles. He is understood to have a 32pc stake in Tesla.

Tesla yesterday posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, with revenues of US$615m on sales of 23,000 Model S vehicles. The company now has a market cap of US$25bn.

The company wants to boost sales of the Model S to 35,000 in 2014.

To achieve this the company intends building a massive lithium-ion battery plant in partnership with other companies. This could potentially explain the company’s talks with Apple.

In related news Musk said that the arrival of Tesla’s anticipated Model X SUV could be delayed to 2015 as the company agononises over coming up with the perfect design that builds on the success of the Tesla Roadster and Model S.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years