Elon Musk says he once considered selling Tesla to Apple, Tim Cook didn’t want to take a meeting

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (R) gestures as he arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony, in Berlin, on December 1, 2020.

Britta Pedersen | AFP | Getty Images

On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he considered selling his electric car company to Apple in recent years, but Apple CEO Tim Cook was not even interested in taking a meeting.

Specifically, Musk wrote in a tweet on December 22:

“During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting.”

On Tuesday, Musk also made remarks about lithium iron phosphate batteries that Apple is reportedly developing for use in vehicles, per a Reuters report on Monday.

“Strange, if true,” Musk wrote. “Tesla already uses iron-phosphate for medium range cars made in our Shanghai factory.- A monocell is electrochemically impossible, as max voltage is ~100X too low. Maybe they meant cells bonded together, like our structural battery pack?”

It was a rare admission from the mercurial CEO that he once considered giving up control of the company he helped build and take to a market value that’s more than the top nine automakers combined. Tesla has not discussed a sale in any financial filing.

In 2018, Musk did publicly say the car business was “hell,” and that he was sleeping at the factory to try to solve the problems the company was having as it tried to start mass-manufacturing its Model 3 electric sedans.

He also previously said, in a tweet, that Tesla once got “about a month” from bankruptcy during the Model 3 ramp-up — a detail that the company never disclosed in its quarterly filings.

Tesla and Apple have always competed for talent in and beyond Silicon Valley. In 2015, Musk called Apple the Tesla graveyard. “If you don’t make it at Tesla you go work for Apple,” he quipped then.

In July 2018, Apple hired Tesla engineering chief Doug Field — a former Apple employee — back to the company, following scores of other employees.

At the time, Tesla told CNBC in a statement about Apple’s ability to poach key employees from its ranks: “Tesla is the hard path. We have 100 times less money than Apple, so of course they can afford to pay more. We are in extremely difficult battles against entrenched auto companies that make 100 times more cars than we did last year, so of course this is very hard work.”

Apple has never acknowledged plans to build a car, but Cook has admitted that it’s worked on “autonomous systems” that could be used in self-driving cars or for other purposes.

Apple and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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