It makes sense for Apple to join forces with Tesla to develop autonomous driving tech, but it still probably won't happen.
Tech giant Apple could probably acquire any company it wants right now, since the company is currently sitting on a huge cash hoard of $250 billion that's just waiting to be spent. Reuters reports that Citigroup analyst Jim Suva has listed Tesla as a possible takeover target for Apple, along with several other media and video games companies including Netflix, Hulu, Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Take Two Interactive Software, and Walt Disney.
Currently, over 90 percent of Tesla’s cash is overseas, but new proposals by President Trump could bring overseas profit into the US at a 10 percent tax rate as opposed to the current 35 percent rate. With this new proposal, Apple could bring a whopping $220 billion into the US for a potential takeover. Since one of the new administration's top priorities is to allow US companies to repatriate overseas cash at a lower tax rate, Apple may have a more acute need to put this cash to use," said Suva. You can certainly see why Apple could potentially be interested taking over Tesla, since both companies are keen to bring fully autonomous driving to the masses.
Tesla aims to offer Level 5 autonomy in 2019, while Apple is allegedly working with Bosch on self-driving technology and was recently granted permission to test the technology in California. Previously, Apple was thought to be working on its own autonomous car under the name of Project Titan, before shifting its focus to connectivity and self-driving technology that other automakers could utilize. Apple joining forces with Tesla would also make sense, since Tesla is more established in the auto industry - going head-to-head with one of the pioneers of electric cars is always going to be risky. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk recently downplayed the suggestion during a recent conference call, however.
“Yeah, I don’t think they want to have that conversation,” he replied when asked about a potential Apple takeover by Morgan Stanley analyst Adan Jonas, as reported by BGR. “At least I’ve not heard any indication that they do. Obviously Apple continues to make some great products and, yeah, I mean, I use their phone and their laptop, it’s cool. I mean… I don’t know what else to say.” As it stands, Tesla’s market cap is currently just over $50 billion, but Musk believes he can overtake Apple’s $700 billion market cap within the next decade, so it seems unlikely that he will want to hand over control of the company.