(Reuters) – Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk said on Tuesday he reached out to Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook “during the darkest days of the Model 3 program” to discuss the possibility of the iPhone maker acquiring Tesla Inc for a tenth of its current value.
“He refused to take the meeting”, said Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla, replying to a Twitter chain which cited a Reuters story on Apple looking to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024 with a new battery technology.
During 2017 and 2018, Tesla struggled to ramp up high volume production of the Model 3 sedan, with Musk at the time informing investors the company was mired in “production hell” because of problems with automated production systems at its battery factory in Reno, Nevada.
However, Tesla overcame the problems and has since racked up a string of quarterly profits. The electric automaker became one of the most valuable companies to join the S&P 500 when it became part of the widely followed stock index on Monday.
Shares of Tesla, however, ended 6.5% lower in its S&P 500 debut, amid news of potential competition from Apple.
Apple’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch.
Central to the company’s strategy for auto production is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range.
In the same Twitter chain, Musk said “monocell”, which Apple plans to use in its design, “is electrochemically impossible as max voltage is ~100X too low” unless they are bonded together.
Apple declined to comment while Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Joe White in Detroit; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri
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