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Asymcar 22: The Goddess

The incomparable Citroen DS (French homophone: déesse), 60 years old this year.  Hydropneumatic, self-levelling suspension aerodynamic and interior design efficiency, swiveling headlights, novel construction methods. Ahead of its time even in 1985. Why did this iconic design not endure?

We use this parable to analyze Apple Car rumors.

via Asymcar 22: The Goddess | Asymcar.

  • airmanchairman

    Beloved of Patrick Jane, The Mentalist, in Season One…

  • stefnagel

    Conjectures:
    * A Jobsian dent suggests social disruption, not merely market disruption.
    * The car, like the phone, would require gigantic rethinking to disrupt at a social level, somewhere beyond the electric motor, beyond the asphalt.
    * The iCar cannot do social disruption with a Tesla-like product; the great dents are democratizing efforts, such as books, radio, phones, TV, internet … and cars.

    • Space Gorilla

      Interesting point about meat. There’s a company right now, Beyond Meat, that is growing meat by using what is essentially a mechanical cow/animal. The product is already in stores. As I understand it, this is not the wildly expensive test tube type of meat. It is affordable, and it is very close to the texture and taste of real meat, since that’s kinda what it is. The machine does what animals do, but of course as you point out, animals are incredibly inefficient at turning plant material into meat.

      • http://twitter.com/matthewwanderer Matthew

        “Beyond Meat, that is growing meat by using what is essentially a mechanical cow/animal. As I understand it, this is not the wildly expensive test tube type of meat.”

        Interesting take.

        Beyond Meat’s products are 100% plant based. You can find out more about the process here:

        http://beyondmeat.com/faqs

      • Space Gorilla

        Not only are they plant-based, they pack their meat product with extra nutrients, it’s a very interesting approach, sort of a better meat. I’ll have to track some down, give it a try.

      • jinglesthula

        Aren’t cows 100% plant based, too? 🙂

      • stefnagel
      • Space Gorilla

        If the Beyond Meat process can scale up (which seems likely) that’s even healthier. My only concerns would be the energy requirements and nutrients per acre, how does it compare to other food sources, that sort of thing. Might be win win. I love fish but imagine a steak that is 100 percent plant-based, healthier than fish, AND tastes like steak!

      • stefnagel

        OK. Time to fess up. I haven’t intentionally eaten a steak … or any other food that once had a mama … in several decades.

      • Space Gorilla

        Could be you’ll soon have the opportunity, meat with no mama!

      • stefnagel

        Spama.

      • stefnagel

        You will like this:

        Bringing it all home to the car: When Apple created the iPhone, it bundled the familiar into the unfamiliar, that is, calling into surfing, navigating, etc. Today lots of folks still use the iPhone as just that and only that. So the no-phone is really the mo-phone or phone plus.

        How would the mo-car be bundled into a larger group of services, while retaining its transporting function? Well, it could be bundled into a home. A home on wheels. The ultimate in mobility, for the highly mobile. The iHaul:

        * Can’t find a place in SF? Park on the bridge.
        * Don’t like your neighbors? Pile into a Walmart lot full of fellow travelers.
        * Commuting? Fill your iHaul into with colleagues and give them a Lyft. Or park next to the train station.
        * On weekends, park next to your own piece of real estate, which is unmolested by construction. Plant the whole forty acres.

        Weirdly relevant, I once doubled my income by living in a mobile trailer for a couple years. My employer was worried that I might move.

      • Space Gorilla

        If Apple builds a car (and I do think they’re working on it to see what they could do) it’ll be electric and they’ll crack the range/charging/cost issue. In my opinion the tipping point comes when I can finance an electric car (that seats 7), including a solar powered home charging station, for around $500 per month, and get a range of about 500 miles. At that point very few people would buy a traditional vehicle. The details may vary, but the point is that once the total cost of ownership beats a traditional ICO vehicle there won’t be any good reason to buy another ICO vehicle. Tesla is inching closer and closer to this already. There’s certainly room for more than one Tesla. Somebody has to make the electric car for the rest of us.

        The other interesting thing is once that level of electric car exists, it isn’t hard to tweak the tech to create a power source for a home.

      • stefnagel

        Oh. Yah. The iHaul is electric and solar, so you park it where the sun shines. And it’s very light, thin, smooth, and shiny.

      • Guest

        Yah. I did assume the iHaul would be electric, so we can plug it into public receptacles. Or bum a charge off other iHauls.

  • neutrino23

    I find it hard to think that Apple would just build another (nicer) car that follows the same business model of private ownership, dealers, insurance, car loans, etc.

    Just as an alternative idea, what if Apple only sold self driving cars to fleet operators in specific areas. By limiting the domain of where they could drive they could have them on the road sooner. By only selling to fleet operators they bypass a huge amount of baggage such as dealers, private insurance, yearly registration, having a drivers license, upkeep, and more. They don’t have to worry about the style of the outside of the car as much as the inside. They could be iconic like the London cabs. The insides could be configurable like airliners. There would be no need for a yearly model change. The whole car would be modular so that when something wore out it would be replaced just like we replace tires today.

    Operating fleet vehicles opens up opportunities to use different technologies like aluminum/air batteries that wouldn’t be practical for individual owners.

    By driving only in a very specific area they would vastly simplify the software problem of the self driving car.

    It costs me about 50 cents a mile to own and drive a car. If they charge between 50 cents and a dollar a mile that might be a good trade off to owning a car. They could charge more for a luxuriously appointed interior, and they could charge towards the lower end if I agree to share a ride. Instead of just selling the vehicle Apple might pick up a fraction of the fare.

    This may be just the starting point, like the first iPhone, but in another 15 or 20 years I can see this being the norm. I wonder if other companies might not build their own fleets. Could we request a Peet’s Coffee car that would deliver a cappuccino along with the ride? A McDonalds car that would serve a McMuffin along with the McRide?

    What if I’m going shopping at Union Square? Would the merchant association pay for my ride while showing me ads during the ride? At what point does it become cheap and convenient enough to simply email someone a “boarding pass” of some sort to provide a ride to someplace in return for their shopping there? Would hotels find this cheaper and easier than running their own airport shuttles? Would bars send patrons home for free or at least with a partially subsidized ride?

    In Japan this sort of thing has been going on for years. Not as widespread as I’ve suggested. There is a system in place for companies to give a coupon to an employee or guest that entitles the bearer to a cab ride home or to a train station. Many people in Japan don’t drive so this is very convenient, although pricey.

    For longer commutes you could turn a small van into perhaps four to six cubicles so that you could work on the way to the office. Putting several people into a vehicle would help with congestion which would speed the commute.

    I can see places like downtown San Francisco and New York eventually banning human driven cars as a safety measure.

    If you are not driving your car do you still care as much about the styling, horsepower, acceleration, or the highest number on the speedometer? There would be no speedometer and electric cars don’t have the guttural roar of gas engines. I don’t know how but I’m sure something like this would have a dramatic effect on society.

  • sizuco

    Forget the Apple Car.

    We don’t need a better car. We need a better transportation system.

    Now *that’s* an area Apple could do some serious innovation and disruption.

    To use just one example, I’d much rather see Apple buy ZipCar and expand/improve it using it’s own exclusive “apple cars” built by a partner car company (like Tesla), while working with cities to transform roads to include a host of sensors that interact with your car/phone for faster, safer, and assisted driving (which vehicle sharing to reduce congestion, pollution, etc.) for a hybrid between mass transit and individual car ownership.