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Would Apple really buy Tesla?

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Paul Sakuma/AP/File

(Read caption) Tesla workers cheer on the first Tesla Model S cars sold during a rally in 2012 at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. Commentators say in the long run Tesla is unlikely to remain independent.

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It's been a great run for Tesla Motors these last few months.

The startup electric-car maker delivered 4,900 Model S luxury sport sedans from January through March, got a rave review from Consumer Reports, and reported its first-ever profitable quarter.

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CEO Elon Musk even dropped hints that it might be working with Google on self-driving car technology.

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But Green Car Reports argues that Tesla is unlikely to remain independent in the long term.

A few commentators--here and here--have suggested that Apple might acquire Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], but that seems to stretch credulity.

Instead, the two carmakers that already own stakes in Tesla are by far the front-runners to take over the company--or at least expand the joint product development deals each has used to engineer low-volume electric compliance cars to meet California zero-emission vehicle requirements.

Those companies are Daimler, which makes Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars, and Toyota.

Green Car Reports suggests that Ford, not currently a believer in electric cars, might be a logical acquirer for Tesla as well.

What do you think? Can Tesla stay independent while it grows, or is it bound to be bought up by some large global automaker?