(Reuters) – Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk said on Tuesday he reached out to Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook â€œduring the darkest days of the Model 3 programâ€� to discuss the possibility of the iPhone maker acquiring Tesla Inc for a tenth of its current value.
â€œHe refused to take the meetingâ€�, said Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla, replying to a Twitter chain which cited a Reuters story on Apple looking to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024 with a new battery technology.
During 2017 and 2018, Tesla struggled to ramp up high volume production of the Model 3 sedan, with Musk at the time informing investors the company was mired in â€œproduction hellâ€� because of problems with automated production systems at its battery factory in Reno, Nevada.
However, Tesla overcame the problems and has since racked up a string of quarterly profits. The electric automaker became one of the most valuable companies to join the S&P 500 when it became part of the widely followed stock index on Monday.
Shares of Tesla, however, ended 6.5% lower in its S&P 500 debut, amid news of potential competition from Apple.
Appleâ€™s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch.
Central to the companyâ€™s strategy for auto production is a new battery design that could â€œradicallyâ€� reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicleâ€™s range.
In the same Twitter chain, Musk said â€œmonocellâ€�, which Apple plans to use in its design, â€œis electrochemically impossible as max voltage is ~100X too lowâ€� unless they are bonded together.
Apple declined to comment while Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Joe White in Detroit; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri
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