One could argue that Tesla is viewed as the Apple of the auto industry, even though the financial performance of each company is vastly different.
But with the convergence of the auto and tech industries continuing to accelerate, could there be a case for the two companies to be merged? It seems Apple was keen on the possibility at one point, and perhaps still is.
It turns out Apple offered to buy Tesla in 2013 at a higher share price than what the EV manufacturer is currently trading at, analyst Craig Irwin of Roth Capital Partners revealed to CNBC in an interview published Tuesday. Irwin said Apple bid $240 per share back then, which is well above the $205.08 that Tesla shares closed at on Tuesday.
Irwin suggested that if Apple was interested in buying Tesla back then, it's likely the company is still interested today, so there remains bullish support for Tesla even though the company's share price is on the downward slope. The price has dropped almost 40 percent since the start of 2019.
Apple is in the process of repatriating to the United States approximately $250 billion in cash held overseas. The company in early 2018 said $38 billion of those funds would go to taxes and a further $30 billion would go to local capital expenditure, helping to support the creation of 20,000 jobs. That still leaves the company with plenty of cash to fund a purchase of Tesla.
Apple and Tesla have been poaching each other’s staff in recent years, so there are already some synergies. The tech giant has also dabbled in the energy business with the construction of solar farms. Tesla is also expanding into the energy business with its energy storage and solar roof projects.
And then there's Project Titan, Apple's secret automotive project. Apple at one point was investigating the possibility of developing its own self-driving car but the company is now thought to be focused purely on self-driving technology.
Interestingly, Irwin also revealed in his interview with CNBC that Apple is building large “dry rooms” in California. He said the rooms are designed to handle the environmental containment required for the production of lithium-ion batteries, and that the size of the rooms Apple is building is more like what you need for automotive applications rather than small mobile devices.