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Elon Musk says he offered to sell Tesla to Apple but was ignored by Tim Cook

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Watch: Elon Musk: I once tried to sell Tesla to Apple

Elon Musk offered to sell Tesla to Apple but was turned down by Tim Cook, who refused to take a meeting, the electric car maker’s chief executive has claimed.

Mr Musk said he had offered to sell Tesla to the iPhone giant when the company was in crisis over the chaotic early production of its Model 3 car, a period believed to be around 2017.

He claimed he would have sold Tesla for around a tenth of its current $600bn (£450bn) value, but Mr Cook refused to meet him to discuss the offer.

“During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting,” Mr Musk tweeted.

Elon Musk - Reuters
Elon Musk - Reuters

It comes after reports that Apple is preparing to take on Tesla by producing its own electric car as early as 2024, fulfilling years of secretive work on its own vehicle project. Apple declined to comment on Mr Musk’s comments.

Tesla’s shares have soared this year to make it by far the world’s most valuable company and Mr Musk the planet’s second-richest person. However, the company has flirted with ruin in the past.

Mr Musk has said that Tesla was a month from bankruptcy when seeking to bring the Model 3, Tesla’s first mass-market vehicle, to full production. “The Model 3 ramp was extreme stress & pain for a long time - from mid 2017 to mid 2019,” he said last month.

Mr Musk had previously come close to selling Tesla to Google in 2013, during the error-strewn launch of its Model S car, but the company recovered while the deal was held up.

Tesla shares had fallen by around 1.5pc on Tuesday before Mr Musk’s tweet, following a report that Apple was planning an electric vehicle with a breakthrough battery within four years.

Mr Musk also wrote that the “monocell” design Apple is reportedly planning is “electrochemically impossible”.

At a value of about $60bn, Apple would have easily been able to afford Tesla as it had about $200bn in cash at the time.

The iPhone maker has made few big acquisitions, with the largest being the $3bn takeover of music and headphones company Beats in 2014.

Apple shares closed on Tuesday at a new record high of $131.88, valuing it at $2.24 trillion (£1.64 billion). The stock started the year at $75.

Watch: Elon Musk slammed for whining about pronouns on Twitter

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