But the two companies have been talking, and almost surely about the planned Tesla Gigafactory, an enormous rechargeable battery production plant projected to open in 2017 and cost at least $5 billion.
It makes total sense. Thanks to its sales of millions of mobile devices like iPads, iPhones, and laptops, Apple uses twice as much battery capacity as Tesla.
Always on the lookout for new and cheaper suppliers, no doubt Apple sees Tesla as a very attractive partner.
Tesla Motors says the Gigafactory will be able to double 2013's global production of lithium-ion batteries by 2020, and in doing so dramatically reduce costs through economies of scale.
What's more, both companies are based in the United States. In fact, they're neighbors; Apple calls Cupertino, Calif., home and Tesla nearby Palo Alto, Calif.
That opens the door not just to a strong supplier-customer relationship, but also to much bigger possibilities.
All the pieces are there for an historic collaboration that could shake up both the mobile device and the electric vehicle industries.
Here's what Apple and Tesla can do for each other – and how that could lead to major increases in revenue…
Apple and Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA): A Perfect Pair
First, let's look at what Apple brings to the table. Mainly, it's money – lots of money.
Apple needs to find productive ways to use its massive $159 billion cash hoard, and Tesla, which has less than $845 million in cash and $607 million in debt, wants to build a Gigafactory that will cost about $5 billion, although the final cost could be much higher.
Tesla said it plans to spend $2 billion on the Gigafactory, while enlisting partners to help cover the rest of the cost. One known partner is Panasonic Corporation (OTC ADR: PCRFY), which is chipping in $1 billion.
Apple could contribute that and more, particularly if costs start to escalate well beyond estimates.
But the money and the supplier relationship are practical considerations. The true potential in this relationship lies in a shared challenge.