updated 10:15 pm EST, Wed February 19, 2014
Hints, but does not say, that 'conversations' centered around battery tech
Following reports that Apple had secretly met with officials from electric car company Tesla to discuss unspecified partnerships, the CEO Elon Musk commented on the rumors -- but phrased his replies in such a way that suggested either he was uninvolved in the talks (which seems unlikely) or didn't want to make clear what the "conversations" with Apple were actually about. Though confirming the meetings, Musk said little about them.
He added that an acquisition of Tesla by some other company was "very unlikely," as the company needs to stay "super focused" on its plan to create an affordable all-electric car. "If one or more companies had approached us last year about such things, there's no way we could really comment on that," Musk said. He added that he was open to the idea of an acquisition if it helped Tesla become a more mainstream automaker, but said that he didn't "currently see any scenario that would improve that probability, so that's why I think it's very unlikely."
Rumors reported last weekend suggested that Musk himself had met with Apple's head of acquisitions, Adrian Perica, or even possibly CEO Tim Cook -- but even if true, there are other scenarios that could explain the meeting beyond straightforward acquisition. Tesla has announced plans to build a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery plant, and Apple may have gotten involved with the carmaker in order to invest or partner in the endeavor, in much the same way it partnered with GT Technology to build a US-based sapphire-glass manufacturing facility that has been speculated to be making display coverings for future iPhones and other products.
Apple has also been known to approach car manufacturers to promote its own iOS in the Car initiative, and the company could have been meeting over possible integration into Tesla's built-in car infotainment systems. Musk has previous said that the plant will be built with the help of other companies.