Those ongoing analyst predictions that Apple would buy Tesla may have been based on some sort of reality.  According the the SF ChronicleAdrian Perica, Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring.

A source tells The Chronicle that Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Cupertino last spring around the same time analysts suggested Apple acquire the electric car giant…

Six months before Ahmad’s letter, Musk met with Perica and probably Cook at Apple headquarters, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect business relationships. While a megadeal has yet to emerge (for all of its cash, Apple still plays hardball on valuation), such a high-level meeting between the two Silicon Valley giants involving their top dealmakers suggests Apple was very much interested in buying the electric car pioneer.

But it is unlikely that Apple wanted to buy the car company and even more unlikely that Musk would sell it. In response to the acquisition rumors at the time, he tweeted the following:

But it’s highly likely that Apple would want to buy into one of Tesla’s major upcoming projects.

Tesla is set to announce a US battery ‘Gigafactory’ in the coming days that will more than double world-wide lithium-ion battery production. Apple obviously has a huge interest here, as it uses the batteries in all of its products. Musk has announced that there will be several high-profile partners in the green US plant, likely including Panasonic and possibly Solar City. Apple has been investing in big green US factories recently, including its Mesa AZ Sapphire venture.

There is some synergy between the companies. Tesla has been hiring high-level engineers from Apple at a pretty impressive clip, and Apple’s Cupertino parking lot sometimes looks like a Tesla showroom:

Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs banker, joined Apple several years ago to head up the M&A department. Before that, Steve Jobs was the head of M&A and he’d rarely make deals. For all of Apple’s money, it still makes very few deals, especially compared to its Silicon Valley neighbors like Google and Yahoo.

TSLA’s stock price has been on a tear since its release of the Model S, with shares rocketing from $30 to $200; its market cap is currently near $25B.

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7 Responses to “Apple M&A met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring, to partner in battery ‘Gigafactory’?”

  1. I think it stands to reason that Apple are interested in their battery tech given their obsession with power efficiency and so on. I can’t see this being about anything but cross company cooperation in areas that mutually benefit the two. I can’t see Apple buying them or even attempting it.

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  2. hmurchison says:

    Tesla is the only large acquisition I would want Apple to make. The danger of Tesla is that someone like GM or Ford attempts to acquire them. While Tesla right now are vehicles for those who are extremely Green and/or well heeled that changes when the more affordable Model E comes out at 40K pricing. Tesla will be ready to go mainstream pretty soon and it’s advantage at this level could be in the type of integration that Apple excels out wrt electronics.

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  3. Apple is not going to buy Tesla. Apple’s DNA is built off of focusing on core competencies, building fewer but better products and disrupting industries from within. They would, however, invest in the development of new battery technology as it obviously benefits them in the long run.

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  4. I’ve wanted an ‘Apple Car’ for a long time now. I really think that technology in cars has fragmented and stagnated. There is no elegant solution out there. Now, as we already know Apple has been working with many car companies on integrating iOS and cars. I would love to see an Apple like mentality taken to designing and engineering cars. Push the boundaries of energy efficiency and performance while perfectly integrating with all of the features of iOS. Sit down in the drivers seat, Siri greets you and lets you know that your directions to your next event in your iCal app has already been loaded. Your Wife takes the car to run an errand the next day, and the seat moves forwards and the back tilts forwards, the mirror is adjusted and Siri asks where to? The possibilities are endless.

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    • P.S. As hmurchison says, Apple could really speed up their iOS in the Car takeover, by using the Tesla Model E as a shining example of the world of possibilities. Perfecting the in car iOS experience as a show piece, creating the typical Apple fan fare would drive competitors into a frenzy. Those competitors don’t have the manpower, the patents or experience behind them to duplicate what Apple can and will do. It’ll surely get companies to sign up entire line ups of vehicles into the iOS in the Car program, and Apple could monopolize and standardize the In Car technology experience.

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  5. Battery tech only is what Apple is interested in. Apple hasn’t come out with either an Apple TV or and iWatch, you think they’re going to buy a car company? No.

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  6. Lithium Catalyst: Apple Electric iCar Coming From Tesla?

    It will not take much to ignite Lithium Bull again – just four words will do: China, Pollution, Tesla and Apple. We have written extensively about three of them before and now we can have the groundbreaking development with Apple thinking about joining the Electric Party.
    Will Steve Jobs’ Apple iCar Dream finally come to reality with Tesla? Mickey Drexler was talking about his friend: “Steve’s dream before he died was to design an iCar”. Tesla Motors and Elon Musk have proven that Electric Cars are for real: technology is here – we just need the mass market.
    We are talking here about the reality distortion field worthwhile Steve Jobs memory. Billions of Apple cash and Tesla’s technology can make the miracle and take the market by storm with Tesla Model E for electric cars mass market made years ahead.
    Lithium investment theme will fit very well with this conglomerate. Lithium batteries are everywhere: in every Apple mobile devise, in every Tesla electric car. It is not a coincidence that Tesla is preparing plans to build super Lithium battery plant. All these plans: Tesla Model X launch, Tesla Model E for mass market development and Lithium Battery plant will need a lot of Capital and Apple has it. Is it the match made in heaven? We will see very soon, but investors are better take notice about this trend already.

    http://sufiy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/lithium-catalyst-apple-electric-icar.html#

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