Asymcar 2: Is Tesla Disruptive? Also Segway, Multiair, Winglet, Organ Donors & Regulation

Podcast 2: Is Tesla Disruptive? Also Segway, Multiair, Winglet, Organ Donors & Regulation Über Alles | Asymcar.

Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer discuss the odds of disrupting the present automotive club via Tesla. We further dive into the regulatory and cultural environment that sustains the current players, while reflecting a bit on Segway, Toyota’s Winglet, organ donors and the Fiat “multiair” engine. Finally, we preview a larger discussion on apps in and around the car. [24MB 57 minute mp3]


  • neutrino23

    It may be just institutional inertia keeping fleet operators from using electric cars. The Toyota Prius has been sold in its current format for almost ten years. However, it took many years for them to be adopted by taxi fleets. Now at SFO it seems the majority of taxis are Priuses. It makes a lot of sense. Even with hard driving I guess the Prius gets in the high 30s of MPG (based on the cabs I’ve ridden in). That has to be about three times better than what they get in a regular sedan If you can cut your gas costs by 2/3 that makes it worthwhile for them. At least in San Francisco I’d estimate a lag of about 6 or 7 years between the introduction of a solution and it’s adoption by the cab industry.

    As to the usage of diesel engines, I have always been surprised that diesels were common in Europe considering how much they pollute. I think they are good at not polluting nitrogen oxides and maybe they are good for unburnt hydrocarbons but they are horrible for emitting soot. It used to be awful to drive behind a diesel Mercedes because of the odor. Now that the particulates are being controlled I think we’ll see more diesels in the US.

  • Bruce_Mc

    I enjoyed listening to asymcar. A couple of notes:

    In the San Francisco Bay Area I also am seeing quite a few Prius taxis mixed in with the usual ex police car Ford Crown Vics. Is that done because of low operating costs or for “feel good” marketing? I don’t know.

    My understanding is that in the past European diesel cars could not run well on US diesel fuel. In addition stricter emissions laws in the US may have played a role in keeping the european engines out. In the present these differences may not be as significant as in the past, but there is still inertia and customer inexperience to be overcome.

  • tfd2

    RE: motorcycles as organ donor creators –
    i’m currently looking into getting a motorcycle (scooter actually, but it’s as risky as a motorcycle), so i’ve been looking at the accident statistics and all that jazz. the only major study in the US was the Hurt report, published in 1981, and it concerned only the Los Angeles area. it found that:

    motorcyclists are 32-27x more likely to die in an accident than a car driver.
    almost half of all motorcycle fatalities involve alcohol.
    bicyclists are 16x more likely to die in an accident than drivers of cars.

    so, it seems to me, if you remove alcohol from the equation (which is entirely under the rider’s control), motorcycles are no more dangerous than bicycles. but i have yet to hear anyone refer to a bicycle as an organ donor creator. i see cyclists all the time with no more gear than a half helmet (btw, 30% of impacts that affect the head occur to the chin area).

    all that said, i still haven’t convinced myself that i’m not going to die if i get one.

  • KirkBurgess

    Great podcast, much appreciated!

    With all the interesting talk of subjects ranging from Segway to air taxis etc, I hope AsymCar will continue in future to include discussion on varied transportation types (and not just cars). Can’t wait to hear discussion on Musks Hyperloop concept.

    I think its good to break up Teslas disruptive potential into areas other than just car manufacturing. Convincing arguments were made that tesla isn’t a disruptive automaker when it comes to manufacturing. Retailing and distribution might be a different matter.

    And on electric vehicles in particular I think its worth exploring how disruptive they might be outside of the manufacturing area. While EVs may only prove to be a sustaining disruption for producers, they are likely to prove highly disruptive to the energy industry surrounding cars. Its also worth considering what disruptive effect the new market entrants will have from a powertrain perspective – how will a company like Panasonic change market dynamics if it became the dominant powertrain supplier (at least for barttery packs?).

  • lenlayton

    Excellent podcast Horace! It is great to hear disruption theory applied to the automotive industry. As I listened to you go through the criteria for disruption you reminded me of the Sinclair C5 – invented by the UK PC Pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair – which sold 17,000 units in 1985. It was ridiculed at the time (another criteria for disruption) and had lots of problems as a product but sold for only 400 GBP – pretty remarkable for 1985. Surely we could do better today! Certainly the “motorbike loophole” in safety regulation is interesting, but what about the ‘bicycle loophole?’ With the advances in electric power assist for bicycles and lightweight materials it seems that there could be a way to build a low cost vehicle that could travel on bike paths yet offer protection from weather and cargo space for trips under 5 km within cities. If all you have to have to do is have a pedal-power ‘option’ and less than 4 wheels to qualify as a ‘bicycle’ then let’s get cracking!