Rumor: Apple Interested In McLaren Technology Group

A report in the Financial Times claims that Apple is negotiating a possible purchase of McLaren Technology Group. Why would Apple be interested in a company that fields a Formula One racing team? Odds are, Apple is not thinking of getting involved in motorsports. But McLaren Technology Group is involved in lots of other things that could put a gleam in Tim Cook’s eye.

McLaren P1 Hybrid Supercar "Farewell" Edition

Like many top tier race teams, McLaren has leveraged its technical prowess to branch out into other areas of endeavor, like carbon fiber construction techniques and data collection technology. Formula One generates massive amounts of data about all aspects of a race car, from aerodynamic downforce to managing the complex relationship between the turbocharged engine, the onboard electric motor and its battery, regenerative braking, and the MGU-H — a device that turns engine heat into electricity.

If Apple intends to get into the car business, analyzing huge amounts of data will be crucial, especially if it plans to join the race to make self-driving cars. A Formula One car generates about 2 gigabytes of data for every mile the car travels on track during a race or in testing. McLaren is able to cross match all that data with information gathered in prior years. Collating and assessing such a mass of data requires extraordinary technical capabilities.

McLaren Technology Group owns several valuable patents for manufacturing with high-tech materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. And, oh yes, McLaren also builds automobiles. One of its divisions, known as McLaren Electronic Systems, does substantial amounts of work with sensors and data. Bringing all that technical skill together with manufacturing experience might be just what Apple is looking for.

The report suggests Apple is considering either making an investment in McLaren or purchasing it outright. The sale price is said to be between $1.3 and $2 billion. A few months ago, noted Formula One correspondent Joe Saward wrote that Apple was considering purchasing Formula One in its entirety. That rumor is now no longer viable, since Liberty Media is in the process of buying the racing series for a reported $8.5 billion.

Earlier this year, Apple invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-hailing company. “From a Didi point of view, we see that as, one, a great financial investment. Two, we think that there are some strategic things that the companies can do together over time,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. Perhaps buying McLaren Technology Group could be one of those “strategic things” Cook was referring to?

Source: Business Insider via Financial Times | Photo Credit: McLaren

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.