From iCar to whoa-car: Apple reportedly in talks to buy McLaren

Talk about going from 0 to 60.

Just a couple of weeks after reports that Apple probably isn’t making an electric car but instead is shifting focus to self-driving technology, now there’s a report that Apple is in talks to buy McLaren.

Yes, that McLaren, the luxury sports car maker and owner of a Formula One team. The Financial Times, citing three unnamed sources, reports that the talks started months ago. The talks could lead to an acquisition or perhaps a strategic investment in the British company, whose cars can cost up to $1 million each and which is expected to be valued at up to 1.5 billion euros, the FT said.

McLaren is denying it’s in talks with Apple, according to the Guardian. When reached by SiliconBeat, an Apple spokeswoman said the company has no comment on the Financial Times story.

The FT report follows a rumor from a couple of months ago that Apple had bid on the Formula One series to get its name out there in the automotive industry. Perhaps because being the most valuable public company in the world and having people camp out to be the first to get their hands on new iPhones isn’t enough? (Formula One was sold earlier this month to Liberty Media in a multibillion-dollar deal.)

The McLaren talk also comes on the heels of reports that Apple’s Project Titan has laid off dozens of employees (the team had been 1,000-strong, according to the New York Times) and has changed its focus from making a car to creating the underlying technology for a self-driving car under new project leader Bob Mansfield, who replaced original leader Steve Zadesky over the summer. Apple also recently brought in the former head of BlackBerry’s car-software division, Dan Dodge.

If Apple bought McLaren for the equivalent of under $2 billion, it would be the Cupertino company’s biggest purchase since it bought headphones maker Beats for $3 billion in 2014. As for a possible strategic investment, Apple’s other big car-related investment is in Didi Chuxing. Apple announced a $1 billion investment in Uber’s China rival in May.


Photo: A new McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 F1 racing car during its unveiling in 2013 at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, southern England. Apple is in talks with British supercar maker McLaren about a possible acquisition, the Financial Times reported Wednesday. (Adrian Denis/AFP/Getty Images)


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