Why Apple and McLaren Should Probably Not Hook Up

McLaren X1 Concept and Apple logo 1 photo
Photo: McLaren/Apple edited by autoevolution
At first glance, probably everyone believed that this could be one of those “marriages made in heaven,” with only but winners to emerge from a buyout of McLaren by a giant like Apple.
Truthfully, I almost had a similar reaction upon reading the Financial Times report, whose main idea has been since refuted by McLaren in a very elegant manner. On one side, we have a company so rich that has a cash reserve larger than the GDP of whole countries. On the other, McLaren Technology Group consists of a number of businesses that most would say have achieved excellence in almost every field they touched.

For those not exactly in the know, McLaren is not just a supercar maker and a successful Formula 1 team with pedigree, since the McLaren Technology Group is actually a conglomerate of five businesses and partnerships.

This means that if Apple would ever decide to spend a tiny little snippet of those 200+ billion dollars it has on hand just to venture into the automotive business, there are considerably worse choices than McLaren.

Just think about it. Apple is mostly known for its i-branded lines of iconic consumer electronics and software, and those are the products it bases its ginormous fortune on. That said, times change, and so does consumer behavior, so Apple is slowly but surely trying to keep a grasp on its sizable amount of customers and even increase it via other business ventures.

One of them is the mysterious Project Titan, which until a few months ago was supposed to translate in the first ever Apple car. Since then, it seems that the Cupertino giant has somewhat changed its focus concerning this virgin field, with a lot of layoffs signaling trouble for the car project.

An alliance or downright buyout of the McLaren Technology Group would most definitely spell good fortune for Project Titan, no matter if Apple wants to make a self-driving car to jump on the same autonomous bandwagon that Google is attacking or an electric car to rival Tesla and whatever Faraday Future is cooking.

What could co wrong, then?

Well, the answer is pretty simple, actually. Everybody is talking about how much would Apple benefit from McLaren, not the other way around. We all use smartphones and computers, but first and foremost we are car lovers here, not necessarily consumer electronics geeks. I'm pretty sure that so are most McLaren fans and buyers out there.

So, from McLaren's perspective, what would an Apple takeover mean for the British conglomerate? Firstly, it would mean that a lot more money would suddenly become available for its own ventures in racing, the automotive business, and other projects. That's the good news.

The bad news is that, even though Ron Dennis would probably remain CEO, he wouldn't be the top boss anymore. McLaren would turn into another subsidiary of a large company, with just about any decision regarding investment having to be acknowledged by Cupertino. In layman terms, it would hand over the controls to a company that knows next to zero about the automotive business and motorsport.

Obviously thanks to the money and therefore power it has over people, Apple has slowly transformed in the recent decade in one of the most arrogant tech companies out there. Words like “courage” and “innovation” are present in just about every presentation from Cupertino, and it usually involves a product that loses an “old and decrepit” feature just to go against the industry standards and introduce some of its own.

What if this downright cancerous corporate culture would put its mark on McLaren as well? “Meet the new McLaren i8, it's just what you've always wanted but never knew it. We've removed the brake and accelerator and replaced them with touch sensitive surfaces that resemble the feel of pedals. Instead of a windshield and roof, an innovative type of blow dryer emits a current of air that simply keeps the passengers away from the elements, including rain. You can also say goodbye to holding an age-old steering wheel since we've replaced it with a courageous stereo camera that tracks your hand movements and turns the car wherever you're pointing your fingers. Everything is easy, just like you've always wanted.

Jokes aside, the loss of full control of McLaren's destiny is probably not worth the heaps of money this type of transaction would bring to Woking. Sure, Ron Dennis only owns about a quarter of McLaren Technology Group nowadays, but apart from having to please more shareholders, he is still the Big Kahuna. That would likely no longer happen if Apple gets the full power, and it would be a shame. Dennis has a fair share of haters and has always been berated for its verbose statements, also known as “Ronspeak.” Even so, he is still the sole reason for the company's successes in the last 35 years or so, ever since he first became the team principal of the McLaren Formula 1 team.
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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