March 14, 2014 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 2 minutes
We explore the strategic and tactical considerations behind BMW’s i sub-brand. Why did BMW attach a new BMW sub-brand to a new powertrain rather than using another brand, like Mini? The answer helps explain how innovations and brands inter-relate and how incumbents can attempt to absorb what is potentially non-sustaining. We consider the pros and cons of innovation within an operating business – “intrepreneurship” – compared with creating an autonomous enterprise for the “new new thing”. Horace contrasts BMW i with General Motors’ failed Saturn experiment and notes that today, GM offers a mainstream plug-in car through the long serving Chevrolet brand and sales channel. We consider the burden that regulation, girth, cycle times, legacy practices, financialization and strategy taxes place on incumbents. Finally, we look at what it takes to cross over the line which separates the device-based nice-to-have infotainment options from the must-have driver and ownership assistants that will inevitably find home in these devices.
February 20, 2014 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 4 minutes
The orthodox vs. the unorthodox: Tata, Tesla and Toyota. Why might an asymmetric competitor lose and a symmetric competitor win? We begin with Tesla and Apple. We continue with aluminum vehicles and re-visit information asymmetry as Horace exploits it to buy a Mercedes on eBay. We talk about car APIs (Aux input jack and ODBII). Jim muses on the risks used car buyers face from eye-watering transmission costs to the parallels between iPhone mules and American citizens recently prosecuted for flipping new German cars to buyers in mainland China. A brief discussion considers the perils of endless line extension up and down the market, perhaps fueled by financialization. We close by considering the track record and business models of recent “disruptive” entrants from Toyota’s Prius to Tesla and the Renault (Dacia) Logan.
January 10, 2014 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 2 minutes
Horace and Jim discuss shopping online for used cars and how and why the value of cars disappears so quickly. The conversation drifts into information asymmetry, the declining interest in auto maintenance and the perpetual closed-loop auto information model. We hypothesize on the impact of the coming self-monitoring and awareness of the lives of vehicles. Finally we ask whether the dysfunction in the industry is the cause or the effect of the ancient integrated factory model and the sustaining auto eco-system incentives that impede transformation. Finally, we note Gordon Murray’s iStream vision and the deal with Yamaha.
December 13, 2013 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 7 minutes
Richard Marks, a battle-hardened veteran of the electric vehicle wars, joins Horace and Jim in Asymcar 8. Our exploration considers the lessons of General Motors’ EV1 and subsequent conversion initiatives. We charge into the organizational, distribution and regulatory dynamics that sustain the long-serving Henry Ford production system. We reflect a bit on Tesla’s use of this century old production model. Richard galvanizes the conversation with a description of his EcoV concept. The disruptive potential of its modular design, impressive economics and off the shelf components sparks a look at potential urban markets, from delivery vehicles to car sharing services. We close with a discussion of the investment and distribution climate for disruptive vehicles such as the EcoV.
November 13, 2013 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 2 minutes
The Transportationist, David Levinson (@trnsprttnst) joins us to discuss the technical, human, environmental and economic factors driving change to the auto-ecosystem. David helps us smartly survey the landscape via: 1. Human behavior 2. Technology lifecycles 3. Urban transportation evolution 4. Network capitalization 5. Congestion
October 21, 2013 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 8 minutes
Steve Crandall brings a new perspective as a guest. Steve’s analysis of complex systems has given him a huge pool of wisdom into which we dip our dainty spoons. We survey the interlopers seeking to replace many jobs that cars have traditionally done, from horses to bicycles, planes, trains and buses. We dive deeper into a few earlier Asymcar topics including energy, regulation, infrastructure, power train evolution, societal changes, distribution networks, urbanization and consider the promise of electric bicycles. Several innovation timing lessons temper our expectations for immediate improvements. Finally, we revisit the emerging transportation information layer and how such services may change public behavior and the auto-ecosystem.
October 11, 2013 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 2 minutes
Of Phaetons, Coupés, Shooting Brakes, Broughams, Hackneys, Cabriolets, Landaus and Limousines. Horace and Jim step back in time to revisit the raison d’être for carriages and the emerging “horseless” carriage. We explore how evolution rather than revolution of networks influenced the technologies of transportation. The question of foothold markets comes up and we explore which jobs-to-be-done affected early car design. The leap from these early jobs to the modern segmentation of the market is observed through Henry Ford’s approach to the then agrarian market compared with Alfred Sloan’s portfolio strategy at General Motors. The discussion morphs into a brief infrastructure review where the development of roads is compared to today’s telco operator business and regulatory models. Finally, Horace and Jim drift into insurance and discuss the risk pooling implications of driverless cars.
September 18, 2013 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 3 minutes
Are cars sold or purchased? Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer discuss automotive “ecosystems” vis-à-vis Apple and Tesla’s direct sales model. We further dive into the rigidity and risk of such value chains and divert a bit into automakers’ attempts at aviation. Finally, we consider the potential monetization of automotive metadata and what that might mean for new, perhaps “over the top” style entrants.
August 27, 2013 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 7 minutes
Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer discuss the pleasures of traversing continents by road. This leads to a grand tour of powertrains, composites, fuel efficiency, regulation and Tesla’s luxury market entry. Which naturally leads to a conversation on emerging auto modularization, apps and ecosystems and where value will accrue.
July 30, 2013 at 12:00PM •
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.