Rumors surrounding Apple's entry into the car industry have swirled around since early last year, but now, the tech giant might be on the verge of doing something huge in the automotive world. The that Apple is looking to acquire the McLaren Technology Group as a strategic investment.
Update: See below for comment from McLaren.
McLaren is, of course, best known for its long-running Formula 1 team and McLaren Automotive, its road car division, but it also runs McLaren Applied Technologies, as "a company set up a company set up in 2004 by [McLaren chairman] Ron Dennis to apply Formula 1's high-performance culture and working methods to businesses such as GlaxoSmithKline."
McLaren Applied Technologies has had its hands in automotive projects, but it's also done extensive work in the medical, transportation, and data industries.
Dennis founded the McLaren Technology Group in 1981 when he purchased the McLaren F1 team. It owns an 80% stake in McLaren Automotive, the maker of supercars like the 675LT pictured above.
Apple's car project, while never officially confirmed by the company itself, has been in the news a lot since it was first reported in February 2015. Recently, Apple shifted its strategy from developing a complete car itself, to focusing on the software required for self-driving cars.
It might seem unusual that Apple would be interested in McLaren, of all carmakers, but the Cupertino company's automotive division recently committed to spending $1.4 billion towards developing electric and hybrid powertrains.
The Financial Times reports that Apple and McLaren have been in talks for a few months, but it's unclear if a deal will go through. It's estimated that McLaren is worth $1.3 to $1.9 billion, potentially making this Apple's largest acquisition since it bought Beats headphones for $3 billion.
While the report gives no indication as to Apple's intentions, it seems most likely that the tech company is interested in gaining access to McLaren's expertise in automotive design and engineering.
McLaren Technologies' expertise in motorsports (the company provides engine software for every car competing in Formula 1) and advanced materials is likely of great interest to Apple as well. We don't suspect, however, that a potential Apple acquisition will have a noticeable impact on McLaren Automotive, the subsidiary company responsible for building supercars.
A spokesperson for McLaren North American denied the report in a statement given to the media.
"We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment," said the McLaren spokesperson. Apple has declined to respond to media reports.
This story was last updated at 1:07 p.m. ET.