Apple reportedly tried to buy Tesla for way over the odds

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Tesla
This Model 3 could have carried an Apple logo one day.
Photo: Tesla

Apple tried to buy Tesla for more than it is currently worth back in 2013, according to one analyst.

The iPhone-maker is said to have made a bid at around $240 a share. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had already tried to offload his company to Google when its future wasn’t looking so bright.

Apple was rumored to be developing its own electric car for many years. It even hired hundreds of automotive and autonomous driving experts for the so-called Project Titan — including former Tesla employees.

But there was a time when Tesla could have become an Apple company.

Apple offered Tesla $240 a share

“Around 2013, there was a serious bid from Apple at around $240 a share,” revealed Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin during an interview with CNBC. This could have been more than double what Tesla was worth at the time.

“This is something we did multiple checks on. I have complete confidence that this is accurate. Apple bid for Tesla,” he continued. “I don’t know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible.”

Despite reports that Apple has now ditched its self-driving car efforts, Irwin insists that Project Titan is still alive. He also suggests Apple could still be interested in acquiring Tesla in the future.

Google was interested, too

During the same year, when Tesla was experiencing difficulties, it could have been snapped up by Google instead. Ashlee Vance explains in the Elon Musk biography:

In the first week of March 2013, Musk reached out to Page, say the two people familiar with the talks. By that point, so many customers were deferring orders that Musk had quietly shut down Tesla’s factory. Considering his straits, Musk drove a hard bargain. He proposed that Google buy Tesla outright — with a healthy premium, the company would have cost about $6 billion at the time — and pony up another $5 billion in capital for factory expansions. He also wanted guarantees that Google wouldn’t break up or shut down his company before it produced a third-generation electric car aimed at the mainstream auto market. He insisted that Page let him run a Google-owned Tesla for eight years, or until it began pumping out such a car. Page accepted the overall proposal and shook on the deal.

It is believed Musk pulled out of the deal with Google after things started looking up for Tesla. It’s certainly plausible that he entered talks with Apple, too, around the same time.

Will Apple buy Tesla?

It seems highly unlikely Apple would buy Tesla today, though. It certainly has enough cash, and with Tesla’s share price falling in recent weeks, it wouldn’t been completely out of this world.

But as Electrek points out, Tesla has recently raised billions in funding to keep things moving. “If they were interested in selling, I don’t think that would have been their first move.”