Responding to a Twitter discussion of a Reuters report that Apple is looking to launch a self-driving electric car with 'next level' battery technology, Musk said CEO Tim Cook refused to meet with him despite overtures during the "darkest days of the Model 3 program".
Musk described the Apple/electric car report as "strange, if true" and questioned the 'monocell' technology reportedly planned for its battery pack. Wedbush Analyst Dan Ives, however, supports the idea of a strategic partnership that allows Apple to enter the electric vehicle space.
"The company has been working in Cupertino for years around this autonomous vision and we believe a potential strategic partnership with an established EV player such as Tesla or VW would be a golden partnership for the next decade tapping into this EV opportunity," Ives said.
Apple shares were marked 0.2% lower in early trading Wednesday to change hands at $131.70 each. Tesla shares, meanwhile, extended their decline to a third consecutive, falling 1.7% to $629.20 each in pre-market trading, pegging its market value at around $635 billion.
Musk described his Model 3 challenges as 'production hell" in mid 2017, when his group was worth around $57 billion and producing 2,700 of the new sedans each year. By June of the following year, that pace had increased to around 12,000 per month and Tesla shares were trading at around $72 each.
Shortly thereafter, Musk courted the wrath of the Securities and Exchange Commission by declaring he had "funding secured" for an agreement that would take his company private at $420 per share.
Since then, Tesla has added some $600 billion in market value, along with a place in the S&P 500 benchmark, while expanding production facilities in Shanghai and breaking ground on a planned development outside of Berlin.
Whether Musk was rattled by the idea of a competitor in the electric vehicle space, particularly one a well-funded as Apple, is impossible to know, but the Tweets do suggest he is keenly aware of its potential challenge.
Musk faces as similar challenge of his own, in fact, in meeting his previously-touted target of 500,000 deliveries this year, a figure that would require a record fourth quarter tally of 166,000. Tesla will publish its official figures in early January.