On Wednesday, news broke that at some point Apple reportedly approached McLaren Technology Group about a potential takeover.
However, a McLaren spokesperson later denied that an Apple takeover or investment is in the works.
Even though there seems to be no deal at this point, an Apple-McLaren tie up makes a remarkable amount of sense for both parties.
The automotive business is not easy.
Building cars is very time and capital intensive. It also requires an incredible amount of experience and institutional memory that cash sometimes can’t buy.
These are things Tesla CEO and former McLaren customer Elon Musk has learned the hard way over the past decade.
As a company that reportedly wants to enter the automotive space, Apple could certainly use McLaren’s decades worth of car-building know-how.
With McLaren, Apple would not only have a company that has experience building cars, but it would also have one of the finest automotive design and engineering firms in the world.
And in that respect, McLaren is as close to a tech firm as you’ll find in the car business.
“McLaren has already tried to build a reputation and a psyche that they are a futuristic and tech advanced car company,” Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer told Business Insider. “Psychologically and philosophically, those two companies are going to overlay perfectly with each other.”
Over the years, McLaren has helped pioneer everything from ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre construction to advanced traction management software. In addition, McLaren has some of the best aerodynamicists and material scientists in the business.
Even though, the Woking, England-based company’s car building subsidiary is only half-a-decade old, McLaren has been pushing the boundaries of automotive technology for half a century.
The company that has become McLaren Technology Group started out in the 1960s as a racing team founded by New Zealander Bruce McLaren.
McLaren, the racer and team owner, became legendary for his ability to innovate and push beyond the status quo to make his cars faster, smarter, and more aerodynamic. And over the past five decades, the team Bruce McLaren founded has racked up eight Formula One World Championships and 182 race victories. Only Ferrari has experienced more success over that period of time.
Bruce McLaren died in 1970 when the prototype race car he was testing crashed. Since 1980, the company has been under the stewardship of Ron Dennis, who has continued Bruce McLaren’s quest to push the boundaries of performance and technology.
In 1992, McLaren introduced its landmark F1 supercar. The 240-mph, carbon-fibre speed demon featured technology and performance capabilities a decade ahead of its rivals.
While the company’s most high profile activities are its Formula One racing team and its super car-building automotive subsidiary, McLaren actually does much more.
In fact, one of the most profitable parts of its operation is the company’s big data consulting business, a McLaren spokesperson told me recently. Called McLaren Applied Technologies, the big data business touches everything from healthcare to consumer products to transportation infrastructure. One of the company’s greatest strengths is its ability to process and analyse a massive amount of complex data. (This ability is must-have these days in the world of Formula One racing and McLaren is one of best in the business at it.)
Conversely, McLaren could certainly benefit from the world’s largest tech firm. While McLaren is currently a profitable operation, with Apple’s backing, the company could truly realise the fully potential of its engineering prowess with fewer financial constraints.
Further, Apple’s expertise with consumer electronics will do wonders for McLaren’s cars in a marketplace that puts such a premium on presentation and user interface.
In addition, a tie-up with a brand as iconic as Apple would be beneficial to any car company.
Whether or not Apple takeover of McLaren will actually happen remains to be seen. But, there’s no denying these two companies can benefit each other greatly. And with McLaren’s engineering-heavy, tech-centric ethos, it should have not problem fitting in at Apple.
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