Apple is looking at making an investment in McLaren and might even consider a takeover, a report from Financial Times claimed. The internet has gone into an overdrive of speculations after this report, with people wondering what would a MacLaren possibly look or drive like. McLaren, however released an official statement, declining any ongoing negotiations between the parties regarding an investment. The company, however stated that it has been having confidential conversations with a wide number of parties.
The last line hints that while the investment by Apple into the British car maker might not be on the cards, there is something that could be on the cards. If one were to analyse the entire scenario logically, it becomes clear that McLaren of all automotive companies isn't the right fit for Apple. It's a known fact that Apple is working on a car project and we shared details of this project in our report a few days back.
Now, manufacturing a car is a tough task, more so from a business perspective than technical. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk has learnt it the hard way over the last few years that earning money from cars is far more tougher than shooting lofty statements. Hence, Apple at this time needs an automotive partner, who can help it speed up its development curve for an autonomous car and also cope up with the short annual product life cycle of its devices. Considering this, Mclaren, a Formula 1 team and maker of supercars and hypercars doesn't fit into the scheme of things as its product lifecycle is far longer than that of mass-market vehicles. Also, McLaren's vehicles are aimed at performance more than connectivity, which is key to Apple. Clearly, neither Formula 1, nor supercar manufacturing is a lucrative business for earning loads of cash. This then seems to be yet another rumour-mill, which will die a quick and forgetful death. However, there is one aspect of McLaren, which Apple might be particularly interested in.
Open up the McLaren website and on the top tab, the third button reads “Applied Technologies”. This is McLarens's technology wing, a group company that specialises in niche areas such as developing bespoke electronic solutions for automotive, health and the energy sector. In addition, the company also has a strong expertise in developing lighter materials such as carbon composites, which are increasingly finding usage on road cars to lower weight and improve efficiency. While these are areas, which appear to be right in the radar of the Apple's car project, there's another one, which is a perfect fit and that's the data analysis capabilities of Applied Technologies.
Anyone who's seen a Formula 1 race will recollect that a number of engineers sitting in the paddock constantly analyse data being sent from the car's sensors. This helps the team predict the behaviour or performance of the car a few laps later, allowing them to adapt their strategy accordingly. The same capability can also be used in, say, an Apple or a MacLaren car to predict the traffic flow at a certain place or time. One can also know vehicle performance in advance, allowing for the route or driving plans to be altered accordingly. When one joins all these dots together, it appears to be the perfect recipe for autonomous driving since such cars require predictive analysis for almost everything. Precisely, the space Apple seems to be gunning for a leadership spot as conventional car-making isn't a lucrative business to enter in and autonomous driving is the next big thing.
With this picture, the Formula 1 team operations too start making sense for Apple as these teams can turn a design into on-track reality way earlier than regular vehicle manufacturers. With the data and material knowledge from Applied Technologies and the quick design and prototyping knowledge from the F1 team , Apple could benefit a great deal in speeding up its car project.
The road hence hasn't come to an end for both these companies with Mclaren's official denial. We could soon see their roads crossing each other as Apple is making every effort in and out of the book to accelerate its car project and take the first-mover advantage in the autonomous driving space.