Initial reactions surrounding reports that Apple is negotiating a deal to acquire McLaren were that of surprise and curiosity. While the curiosity still remains, the surprise has since simmered down.
Rumours have long indicated Apple’s interest in entering the automative industry, with attempts at hiring top engineers from Tesla and Mercedes-Benz over the past year or so.
That all changed a couple of months ago when Apple reportedly changed its direction from building an electric car to a self-driving one. Many of those engineers left in the process.
With that context in mind, the Financial Times report of the McLaren takeover rekindled buzz around Apple’s automative efforts, despite the tech giant never once confirming their interest in the industry.
McLaren has since denied the talks and Apple have declined to comment altogether, but this unlikely marriage – or adoption – makes sense for both parties more than initially thought.
The Apple Car
The acquisition immediately propels any hope Apple might have in marketing a self-driving vehicle on time, with stiff competition entering the territory. And while McLaren might be mostly known for its Formula One team and its over-priced under-produced supercars, its expertise in manufacturing would make it a true asset in Apple’s books.
Most companies – Tesla for example – have great ideas but struggle to strategise, design and optimise the manufacturing process, leaving prototypes stuck as prototypes. McLaren, no strangers to cutting-edge innovation, are great at turning blueprints into reality. McLaren’s Applied Technologies division, known for taking their automative innovations to other industries, have even made contributions in aviation, medicine and dental manufacturing, just to name a few.
This expertise in integration and manufacturing would apply beautifully in Apple’s ecosystem beyond its car business, with the tech giant especially known for integrating innovations from one product to another.
While McLaren may be unprofitable, its valuation of £1bn (S$1.8bn) and £1.5bn (S$2.71bn) is an affordable investment for Apple, which has close to US$55bn (S$75bn) in cash reserves. The UK-based company is also small and privately-owned, making a takeover relatively straightforward and uncomplicated.
An unlikely but perfect fit
As seen from Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics, McLaren’s acquisition will most likely see it continue to operate autonomously under its own brand, business as usual. Given McLaren’s legacy in the automative industry, the ability for an acquisition to provide further access into resources without dissolving its brand may very well make this the perfect fit for both parties.
The deal would ultimately benefit Apple the most, providing the company with invaluable access to some of the industry’s best engineers, material scientists and designers. McLaren is also easily the industry’s authority when it comes to carbon fibre, the extremely light but durable material which the carmaker first introduced to Formula One before all others.
It’ll be extremely interesting to see if a deal does come through. The possibilities are endless with these two, and even more so with them together.