McLaren refutes report that it is in talks with Apple

The Washington Post

Not so fast.

High-performance car company McLaren is putting the brakes on a report that it was in talks to get acquired by Apple Inc. 

The story, reported by the Financial Times, said the two firms have been talking for several months about plans to have Apple make a strategic investment in the McLaren Technology Group or buy it outright. The article cited “three people briefed on the negotiations.”

McLaren Technology Group includes McLaren Automotive, McLaren Racing and McLaren Applied Technologies. Apple declined to comment, but McLaren said Wednesday that there was no truth to the report.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” the company said in a statement. 

Rumors about Apple’s oft-reported and never officially confirmed car project, reportedly code-named Project Titan, have been swirling for years.

Speculation that the tech giant would make its own car cooled this year after Apple hired a high-ranking executive from Blackberry's QNX car software company — a move that Bloomberg reported indicated that Apple was focusing more on designing car software. At the time, that report raised the idea that Apple might work with or buy a car manufacturer.

“The initiative is now prioritizing the development of an autonomous driving system, though it’s not abandoning efforts to design its own vehicle,” the report said. “That leaves options open should the company eventually decide to partner with or acquire an established carmaker, rather than build a car itself.”

Many Apple watchers have advocated for Apple to buy Tesla Motors Inc., but Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has called such a deal “unlikely.” Musk also has scorned Apple’s car efforts, telling a German newspaper that he refers to Apple as a “Tesla graveyard” because the tech firm hires so many engineers Tesla has let go.

McLaren has struggled to reach profitability. The British automaker may be best known for its high-end luxury super cars and its Formula One team, though it also has made forays into wearable technology, healthcare and electronics.

It took the name McLaren Technology Group in 2015 to reflect its diversification strategy. The firm said at the time of its renaming that it produces a little more than 1,600 cars a year.

Tsukayama writes for the Washington Post.

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