By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Highly respected UK newspaper, The Financial Times, has just reported that tech giant Apple is in talks to buy the McLaren Technology Group, parent company of the famed F1 team and car manufacturer in a deal that may be worth up to $2 billion.
McLaren has quickly moved to deny the reports, but The Financial Times said it had three sources corroborate the report that talks were indeed in place between the two companies.
McLaren is currently owned by three entities: F1 Principal Ron Dennis, company chairman Mansour Ojjeh, and Bahrain’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. The Bahrain faction may well be pushing the talks and looking to make a windfall from any potential investment from Apple.
The story to follow will be if the talks lead to one of two potential conclusions: a full on buyout which seems extraordinary, or rather a strategic investment by Apple who are likely interested in McLaren for help with the Apple Car project.
Apple’s somewhat shadowy electric car program known as Project Titan has been in development for at least the last two years. Surrounded by intrigue and rumor, the likes of which have only grown since a recent reshuffling of the executives in charge of the venture. It has been widely believed that the car will have autonomous functions and a high electric range, a sort of iPhone for the road.
McLaren doesn’t make the iPhone of the road, they make race cars and some of the most exciting, high tech super cars in existence. Any McLaren involvement with Apple will surely stoke the hopes of automotive enthusiasts for a dynamic electric car more like Tesla as opposed to a Nissan Leaf rival with an Apple badge. It would be a good move by Apple to bring on an established car maker to help with their ambitions in the world of personal mobility and making a large investment to own a portion of McLaren would be a brilliant way to go about it. From its impressive technology centre in Woking, dubbed the MTC, McLaren has developed technology not only for F1 and sportscars, but IndyCar, NASCAR, Heathrow Airport, and more. They are an ideal choice for Apple provided they can be convinced of the project’s validity.
That said, I don’t quite see the house that Bruce founded and Ron built being ready to sell everything to any silicone valley tech overlords no matter how big the check.
Watch this space.