Apple and McLaren

The 'Apple may buy McLaren' rumor is my favorite tech rumor this year. I think such an acquisition would be great for many reasons, but I'll outline 3 here.

First, McLaren is a technology company that happens to make cars. After changing its name to "McLaren Technology Group" in 2015, the company stated:

The McLaren companies now employ more than 3000 people, three-quarters of whom are not involved in motorsport. Technology drives everything we do – creating the world’s most advanced road cars, working with blue-chip companies to enhance their performance and their products, and/or developing the world’s most robust electronic control systems. Our new name therefore reflects our ever-increasing focus on innovation and the creation of disruptive technologies that will have a positive and far-reaching impact.

Having worked for a technology company, where my job involved working with OEMs, I understand how much differently car manufacturers think and operate than a technology company. Buying a car company would be an albatross around Apple's neck; the unbending 'mediocre-is-good-enough' mindset, the dealer network, the horrible buying experience, all seem to clash with Apple's sensibilities. A technology company is more malleable, and wrangling a technology company is familiar to Apple.

Second, it appears that Apple could fetch McLaren for under 2 billion dollars. That seems like an incredible price for the intellectual property, taste and talent that it would get.

Should Apple acquire McLaren, points one and two would justify the typical: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." That statement makes a lot less sense in a Volkswagen (mCap 60b+), or even a Tesla (mCap ~30b) acquisition.

Third, Apple would presumably sell mass market luxury McLaren sedans and SUVs a la Porsche. McLaren makes super and hyper cars; and has an F1 team; some people seem to think that it makes little sense for Apple to acquire McLaren for these reasons. However, it would take a lifetime and a lot more than 2 billion dollars to garner the kind of respect McLaren has in the automotive space. The company makes the P1 (this P1!) and caused F1 to create a new rule (so as to stop it from thrashing its competitors). Apple and McLaren could build an all electric luxury sedan with real F1 pedigree and Apple software. This is the best reason I see for an acquisition.

Coincidentally, I've been wondering more what Apple would call its vehicle if it did make a car. I don't think "Apple Car" sounds very good. Also, that there is such a thing as a "lemon law", should quickly stop anyone from naming a vehicle after a fruit. But, the "A1" or "S1" sounds perfectly reasonable - so long as it is preceded by the word "McLaren".