- Getty/Andrew Burton
Apple has been considering a purchase of the British automotive manufacturer McLaren Technology Group, and conducted talks with the company, according to a new report from Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw at the Financial Times.
Apple also bounced around the idea of a strategic investment as another option, though the FT’s sources say an acquisition was also discussed.
But a McLaren denied that a takeover or investment was currently in the works.
“There’s no takeover, no strategic investment,” A McLaren spokesperson told Business Insider. “It’s completely untrue.”
Business Insider has reached out to McLaren to ask whether acquisition or investment talks happened in the past.
The price for McLaren Technology Group? Between £1 billion ($1.3 billion) and £1.5 billion, according to the report.
McLaren makes supercars, and it runs a British Formula 1 racing team. But it also does a fair amount of research and work with manufacturing processes and data collection and analysis.
Earlier this year, F1 blogger Joe Saward floated the possibility that Apple was laying the groundwork to buy the entire racing series.
F1 was eventually sold to Liberty Media for $8.5 billion, although the deal is not final.
McLaren lost £22.6 million on revenue of £265 million in 2014, the most recent figures that are publicly available, according to the Financial Times.
The news of talks between McLaren and Apple will renew speculation about what products and services the technology company is planning in the automotive industry.
Apple famously has a car department, codenamed “Project Titan,” but the company has never confirmed that it is in fact working on an electric car or self-driving software.
Apple has recently focused its attention on self-driving car software instead of on the manufacturing processes that would go into making its own car, according to a slew of reports.
But Apple’s core corporate strengths are design, supply chain management, and manufacturing processes, all of which lend strength to the argument that if Apple were to make a car, it would design both the hardware and software, as it does for the iPhone.
An investment or purchase in McLaren would give Apple an injection of racing technology, as well as a team of automotive-focused engineers. McLaren also owns several valuable patents, especially for high-tech materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. It does manufacturing research and studies materials in its McLaren Applied Technologies group.
McLaren also does substantial work with sensors and data in a department called McLaren Electronic Systems. For example, the company compares real-time data collected during races with historical data, which means that it can solve several problems with dealing with the flood of data that a connected car can generate.
One of the challenges Apple’s car project faces is dealing with and analyzing the flood of data generated by its sensor-laden vehicles currently driving around California. Those vehicles can produce 2 GB of data per mile.
Apple has already invested in a transportation company. It invested $1 billion earlier this year in Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-hailing company.
“From a Didi point of view, we see that as, one, a great financial investment. Two, we think that there are some strategic things that the companies can do together over time,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in July.