Uber was reportedly looking to team up with Tesla for self-driving cars last year, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk rejected the proposal.

The matter went under the radar so far, but it has now come to light that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick went to Musk to pitch the idea, but Musk said it was "too far out" and Uber would be better off focusing on its ride-hailing business.

Wild Ride

News surfaced thanks to the upcoming book Wild Ride, written by Adam Lashinsky from Fortune. Bloomberg got a copy of the book before it hits the market next week, and revealed Uber's partnership plans with Tesla.

In the book, Kalanick recalls the discussion with Musk over the partnership proposal and how it all went down.

"I said, 'Look man, we should partner. Elon spent the rest of the call convincing me that it's too far out, and it's not realistic, that I should just stick to what we do best and be focused, or I'm going to f--- it all up. That's when I knew Tesla was competing.'"

Uber Wanted To Join Forces With Tesla Against Apple

The chat took place after Apple made a hefty $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing, at the time one of Uber's biggest rivals in China. Kalanick approached Musk thinking they could team up against Apple.

At that point, Tesla was equipping its cars with the semi-autonomous Autopilot driving system, while Uber was working on its own autonomous driving tech. In the book, Kalanick highlights that Musk played coy when they talked about a potential partnership, but he later found out that self-driving cars were already a priority for Tesla.

Just days after talking with Kalanick, Musk reportedly laid out a plan for Tesla's strategy and priorities for the next decade. The plan included a concept for a ride-hailing service similar to Uber, which would enable Tesla owners to rent their vehicles to others for profit.

Bloomberg further notes that a person close to Musk confirmed that the Tesla CEO refused Kalanick's offer for a partnership, but did not try to talk him out of pursuing self-driving car ambitions with Uber.

Uber's Troubles

Uber has been having a tough time recently on several fronts, including with its self-driving car business. The company is currently involved in a legal dispute with Waymo, after ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski left to join Uber and apparently stole thousands of documents in the process.

A judge recently denied Uber's request for private arbitration instead of going to trial, but at least Uber can continue working on its technology as long as Levandowski goes nowhere near its LiDAR systems. Levandowski had already stepped down as Uber's self-driving car chief as the lawsuit with Waymo intensified.

Uber still faces an uphill battle and increased competition, especially since Waymo just teamed up with Lyft to work on self-driving car technology. Things might have worked out differently for Uber if it scored a partnership with Tesla, but we'll never know.

An Uber initial public offering has been rumored, but in this context it seems highly unlikely it will happen anytime soon.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.