Musk says Apple passed on Tesla acquisition three years ago

Enlarge / A Tesla Model 3 is seen within the normal meeting line on the Tesla manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, in July 2018.

A couple of years in the past, Elon Musk tried to curiosity Apple CEO Tim Cook in shopping for Tesla, Musk mentioned in a Tuesday tweet. “He refused to take the meeting,” Musk added.

According to Musk, this occurred within the “darkest days of the Model 3 program”—most definitely someday in late 2017 or early 2018. Musk lately revealed that at one level early within the Model 3 manufacturing course of, Tesla was “about a month” away from chapter.

“The Model 3 ramp was extreme stress & pain for a long time — from mid 2017 to mid 2019,” Musk wrote in November. “Production & logistics hell.”

While the Model 3 was not Tesla’s first automotive, it was the corporate’s first try and construct a mass-market car—one that would promote for lower than $40,000 and due to this fact win tons of of 1000’s of shoppers yearly. While the automotive was cheaper, the tools required to fabricate it at a bigger scale was dearer than Tesla’s earlier manufacturing strains.

Musk had an formidable plan to automate the Model 3 manufacturing course of, utilizing robots for duties that had been historically accomplished by human employees. But issues did not work out the best way Musk hoped they’d. Building the mandatory robots was tougher and costly than anticipated. Some did not work proper. So Tesla was finally pressured to reduce its automation plans and construct a extra typical meeting line.

“Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake,” Musk admitted in 2018. “Humans are underrated.”

Designing the Model 3 and organising its manufacturing line was so costly that Tesla’s survival relied on the Model 3’s success. If Tesla wasn’t in a position to begin promoting the Model 3 in quantity by mid-2018, it will have run out of money and certain couldn’t have serviced its multibillion-dollar debt.

Tim Cook wasn’t

Apparently, in some unspecified time in the future throughout this course of, Musk turned so apprehensive about Tesla’s survival that he thought-about promoting the corporate. Apple would have been a logical candidate. It was (and is) one of many largest firms on the planet, with greater than $70 billion in money and short-term investments. It simply might have afforded Tesla’s $60 billion market valuation.

Apple and Tesla even have comparable design philosophies. Both are identified for his or her vertical integration, creating their very own {hardware} and software program and promoting their merchandise on-line and in company-owned shops.

But based on Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook wasn’t . When Musk reached out to Cook in 2017 or 2018, Cook declined to even take a gathering on the topic.

At the time Musk contacted Cook, Apple had been working for a number of years on a automotive challenge known as “Project Titan.” Titan reportedly started as a plan to construct an “Apple Car” however then received scaled again to creating self-driving software program to license to present automakers. On Monday, Reuters reported that Apple was as soon as once more engaged on creating its personal automotive.

With the benefit of hindsight, plainly shopping for Tesla in late 2017 would have been a very good deal for Apple. Tesla’s market capitalization at present is 10 instances what it was in 2017. After the rocky rollout of the Model 3 in 2017 and 2018, issues began to go extra easily. Tesla launched the Model Y on schedule, constructed a manufacturing facility in China, and is now working to construct two extra factories in Texas and Germany.

Musk’s supply to Cook wasn’t the primary time he thought-about promoting Tesla. According to a 2015 biography of Musk by Ashlee Vance, Tesla had an analogous disaster within the first quarter of 2013. The Model S had been launched the earlier yr, however early gross sales had been so sluggish that Tesla’s survival was in query.

According to Vance, Musk struck a “handshake deal” with Google founder Larry Page in March to purchase the corporate for round $6 billion. But whereas the attorneys had been haggling over the small print, Model S gross sales improved sufficient to get Tesla out of instant hazard. Tesla posted an sudden revenue for the primary quarter, and Tesla’s inventory worth soared. Tesla remained impartial.

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