Elon Musk said Tuesday that he wanted to sell Tesla to Apple during the “darkest days” of the Model 3 rollout but that CEO Tim Cook “refused” to take the meeting.
Musk dished about the proffer in response to a tweet about how Apple has reportedly reignited its desire to make and sell an electric, autonomous vehicle. He noted that Tesla was worth about one-tenth then what it is now, as the electric vehicle company rounds out a remarkable year where a meteoric stock price run turned it into the most valuable automaker on the planet. Of course, in 2017 Tesla was still hemorrhaging money and had not yet produced an electric vehicle at high volume.
During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2020
Musk has previously said that Tesla was “single-digit weeks” away from collapse in 2017 as he directed all of the company’s resources toward ramping up production of the Model 3 sedan. Tesla ultimately survived, and has since gone on to roll out the Model Y SUV and announce new vehicles like the Cybertruck.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple has spent the last half-decade toying with an entry into the worlds of electric and self-driving cars, but up until this week was thought to be focused on developing software and other technologies that could be sold to other companies. But on Monday, Reuters reported that the Silicon Valley giant has retrained its focus on making an electric, autonomous car for general consumers.
One of the reasons Apple reportedly changed directions again is that it has made progress on a potential breakthrough with regards to the battery. According to Reuters, Apple has been developing a lithium iron phosphate battery that can be packaged more tightly in the car’s battery pack, cutting down on weight while increasing the potential energy density.
Musk pointed out on Twitter on Tuesday that Tesla is already using iron phosphate batteries in some of the cars it’s making in China.
“Strange, if true,” he wrote.
Tesla and Apple have swapped a lot of talent over the last decade. When rumors of an “Apple car” first emerged in 2015, Musk joked that Apple was a “Tesla graveyard.”
“If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding,” he said.
Musk said at the time that an electric car was “the next logical thing” for Cook and Apple to work on.
“It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches,” Musk said.