McLaren Denies Investment Deal With Apple

Tim Cook and a McLaren  F1 - Getty - H 2016
Andrew Burton/Getty Images; Noam Galai/WireImage

The luxury automaker shot down a report by FT that a deal between Apple and McLaren was in the works.

McLaren has denied a report in the Financial Times that a deal is underway between Apple and British automaker McLaren, which designs automotive software and runs a celebrated Formula One racing team.

"We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment," the company said Wednesday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Had the deal been a reality, it would have been be one of Apple's largest forays into the automotive industry, which has seen steadily increasing investment from tech companies like Uber, Google and Lyft. Earlier in the year, Apple made a $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing app and Uber competitor.

The apparent synergies between Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple and Surrey, England-based McLaren are numerous, as Apple has reportedly been trying to enter the automotive space for years and McLaren has been having trouble turning a profit. McLaren was nearly $30 million in the red in 2014.  

McLaren specializes in making automotive software, sensors and electronic control systems, which are required of all Formula One vehicles. The company has adapted its technologies for applications in the energy and pharmaceutical spaces, as well.

Rumors have swirled in Silicon Valley about Apple's own secret automotive project, allegedly code-named "Titan" and colloquially referred to as the iCar. Then-board member and J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler said in 2014 that the company's founder Steve Jobs was interested in building and designing a car. In 2015, more rumors circulated about the company taking meetings with the California Department of Transportation.

Apple has never formally acknowledged the program, however. The company also declined to comment for this article.

Total auto tech investment for 2016 is projected to hit a record high in 2016 of $847 million, nearly double 2015's total of $478 million, according to data from research firm CB Insights.

McLaren is owned by its founder Ron Dennis, French entrepreneur Mansour Ojjeh and the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain.