Enter the Apple Car

“With a flood of news heralding Apple’s move into the electric-vehicle market, it seems Silicon Valley’s invasion of the auto sector is becoming a full-blown assault,” Edward Niedermeyer writes for Bloomberg View. “But as significant as the tech giants’ entry into the auto industry is, the vagueness of their plans seems to be causing more confusion than clarity.”

“So much so, in fact, that the auto industry seems to be responding to the Apple news by questioning why any high-margin technology firm might possibly want a piece of its low-margin, capital-intensive business,” Niedermeyer writes. “Former GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson told Bloomberg News that Apple shareholders should be wary of a move into auto manufacturing because “a lot of people who don’t ever operate in it don’t understand and have a tendency to underestimate” the industry. Akerson speaks from experience: His five and a half years as an auto executive were riddled with rookie mistakes.”

“Akerson’s latest mistake is failing to understand that no Silicon Valley juggernaut wants to simply beat the automakers at their own game,” Niedermeyer writes. “Silicon Valley has a shot at offering the first true private alternative to individual vehicle ownership. And with two of the biggest tech firms racing toward this vision, traditional automakers are on notice.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple will be a supplier to the car industry, not a competitor – February 23, 2015
Do not underestimate the Apple Car’s Potential – February 23, 2015
Apple Car: Forget ‘electric,’ think hydrogen fuel cells – February 20, 2015

41 Comments

  1. With the auto industry bedded with the oil industry, it’s come to the point, non-traditional players have to come in to the picture, to make a global change. We should have been using electric cars from day one. But for some reason, oil won over batteries. What would the world be like today if we had continued down that path? 100 years of battery development and oil stays in the ground.

    1. Electric cars were produced back in the early days.
      Baker electric was making cars in the early 1900s.
      The reason that gas won was because it was cheap and the main battery tech at the time was lead acid which works, but does not pack enough punch in a small package to really compete.

      1. This is what I was thinking about. And I just wonder how it would be if we put as much effort in making better batteries and electric motors, if we had stuck with it. Gas prices was just to easy and now we are stuck with it, and it’s pollution.

        1. Electric has always interested me. The early industry was killed by low priced gasoline and the rapid advance of the internal combustion engine.
          With the advancements in tech today I’m excited to see where electric is going.
          Really the charge cycle (time to charge) and range is the only thing stopping electric from dominating in my opinion.
          As oil gets more expensive or continues to have wild price swings the economics of electric get better.

          1. Until all-electric cars become commonplace, the best practical alternative is a gas-electric hybrid. I routinely get over 50 mpg in my 2007 Toyota Prius. And there are a number of gas-electric hybrid models on the market. My wife routinely gets 28 mpg in her Lexus 450 h; this is lower than my Prius, but actually better than most SUVs (especially for its size and quality). Also, I am talking actual MPG, not “sticker MPG” …which is a hypothetical optimum based on a strictly-controlled test run, which a lot of drivers cannot achieve. You can look up the MPG people are actually getting in their cars on a website like fuelly.com

            1. I routinely got 40 MPG from my 1981 VW Scirocco. I can’t believe that after almost 35 years with all these so-called advancements, everyone thinks 50 MPG is something astounding.

            2. Laws of Thermodynamics. Internal l combustion is / was and shall always be limited to ~0.2 practical efficiency from a theoretical maximum e ~ (1 – T1/T2) ~ 0.45.

            3. Totally agree. Whenever I rented cars in Europe over the past 20 years or so, each one pretty much got 45 to 50 mpg. I swear one car almost got 60 mpg. Nothing fancy: small car, very efficient diesel engine, and superb gearbox.

            4. All-electric cars will not become commonplace in any of our lifetimes. Do all of you people think that electricity comes out of thin air, and that the powerful batteries that need to go in electric cars are made out of love and good feelings? And that electric cars are ever going to be useful in frigid climates? Please get a clue.

        2. Coal burning electrical plants are solution.

          Littering our public lands with bird killing wind turbines and solar farms is solution.

          Industrialization’s byproducts are goods, services . . . and pollution. You can’t have a modern world without pollution.

          So now what, precious?

          1. Chase, you can choose to be cynical, but:
            – coal is being phased out and smokestack scrubbers are mitigating the emissions problem as the last old coal plants run out their life cycle. Future plants in the USA will not be coal-fired unless coal lobbyists sway a corrupt congress, because coal is not economically adventageous

            solar farms don’t kill anything, and the number of birds killed by wind turbines are negligible. More birds and other animals are killed by automobiles, and you don’t seem to have a problem with that.

            I cannot disagree more strongly that pollution is necessary. The key is that humans learn to capture the emissions and effluents from their activities so that those “waste” products can become feedstock for other industrial processes. If you design the whole cradle-to-cradle material use, then we don’t have to degrade the world’s air and water and habitat to have goods and services. The only thing preventing the elimination of harmful pollution are the lobbies that profit by using antiquated dirty processes to do their thing. Why would you support any company that excessively fouls the air you breath and the water you drink? You should think about that. And you can save yourself a lot of time and money — if your environment is not important to you, then stop washing your clothes, your dishes, and your home. Funny how when “environmentalism” is implemented inside your own home, it’s a worthwhile investment.

            1. My post read “Solution” but should have read, “pollution”.

              You might want to check again on solar farms killing birds.
              http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304703804579379230641329484
              That is just one example.

              I’m not against environmental conservatism. I’m against politicians (both sides) hijacking environmentalism and using it as a vehicle for taxation.

              Congress is corrupt? The whole system is corrupt.

              I never said pollution was necessary. I said it was a byproduct. I was disputing the notion that “where would we be now if we used electric cars 100 years ago.” It’s hypothetical non-sense. We are here and we are now and Oil did it. Oil also polluted, but it also go us here and now.

              Oil also powered hundreds of private planes to the Davos conference to discuss . . . climate change. That’s like a weight watchers meeting at the all-you-can eat buffet – laughable, hypocritical and disingenuous.

              I like better solutions and improvement too. Not at the cost of freedom or unaudited taxes. It’s a scam.

            2. In 2013 electricity generated in the US by source:
              39% coal
              27% natural gas
              19% nuclear
              7% Hydro
              6% other

              Solar falls into the Other at 0.23%
              Wind falls into the Other at 4.13%

              Lets take the two top ones since they are similar. They burn a resource to generate electricity. Combined that is 66% of our electric is generated by that.

              How is solar and or wind going to jump from 4.36% to 66%?

              Not overnight. Coal and natural gas need to be around until the others catch up.

          2. Wow, blanket statements sprinkled with exaggerations.

            Current coal plants in the U.S., while not 100% clean, are much, much cleaner than they were even 20 years ago. And, they are getting cleaner. They still have to do much better (and eventually go away all together), but they are nowhere near the pollution sources most people imagine they are. (Now, in some countries like China, they are still truly bad.)

            Yes, wind turbines do kill a few birds, but the number of birds killed is a small fraction of those predicted by environmentalists back in the 80s and 90s.

            Solar is only part of the solution. It will NEVER carry even 90% of the need worldwide. All renewable sources will need to be used to get away from using oil.

            Industrialization does not HAVE TO create pollution. It is possible to create a society that is 100% renewable (except for that nasty heat output due to entropy and the laws of thermodynamics). But, the real point is, “How far toward 100% renewable do we need to push it?” There is probably some reasonable inflexion point in that trend line. Unfortunately no one currently knows where that inflexion point is.

            To just say we have to live with pollution to have an industrialized world is not joining the conversation to work toward a viable solution.

        3. Carbon Dioxide is not pollution. If it was, we would make you stop exhaling in order to save the planet from your evil Carbon Dioxide.

          Hydrocarbons, when used in engines, produce water and carbon dioxide. Without water and carbon dioxide we would grow no food. We would all die.

          Use your fucking heads.

          1. At one time, Earth had no/little freely available oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria produced free oxygen molecules which was toxic to almost all life. After some time, life cold use the oxygen, which we are greatly indebted to. However, pollution is anything of unwanted levels, regardless of it’s source. We have too much CO2. I think, but don’t quote me, air becomes toxic at 6% CO2. I think it was a CSI episode, I saw. My point is, pollution, regardless of it’s source, CO2, O3, unburnt hydrocarbons, as smog, is a problem. Cars are a major factor, so is live stock. Cutting down rainforest impacts two fold, a carbon sink, and water vapor transfer, which reduces our chances of managing pollution control, and the ability for it to rain, which also helps purify air of particulate air pollution. I propose you are not using your cranial orifices correctly. We need to manage our resources including it’s output, which is something currently not being done, because it’s so boo hoo, too costly. I suppose you like consuming your children’s future, and mine as well, for that matter.

            Let’s put it the Steven Hocking way. We are on the verge of a Type 1 Civilization. If we are ever to see a balance with that, and continue to live on this planet, we will need to manage all aspects of our existence here, birth control, food production and livestock control, energy production and consumption. If bacteria can produce an environment which saw it’s own demise, billions of years ago, we can do it again, but this time it’s humanity which will experience it’s demise. We can’t reproduce fast enough to evolve our way out of it. So there’s only one thing to do. Stop being so greedy and pay attention to your surroundings.

    2. Why should oil stay in the ground? Should minerals also stay in the ground? Why or why not?

      Everything on the earth should be used, responsibly.
      Minerals should be mined, responsibly.
      Plants should be used, responsibly.
      Animals should be used, responsibly.
      If solar, hydro, wind, and nuclear can be used in away that doesn’t place an even greater burden on tax payers (read: raising taxes for failed government programs such as Solyndra), it should be used, responsibly.

      The world you know it was built on the back of oil, for better or worse. You’re little Apple products are shipped here on barges that burn endless amounts of it…

      The electric cars you speak of mostly receive electricity from coal burning plants . . . coal also comes from the ground.

      Shall we dot the land with bird murdering wind turbines and bird torching solar farms?

      Preach, preacher…

        1. I didn’t describe “responsible”. Did I?

          I only suggested that it would be reasonable to use all things on the planet, responsibly. Please refer to the dictionary for a deffiniton rather than assume what I’m trying to say.

          Associating my use of the word “responsible” with the word “rape” suggests a thinking error on your part, not mine. You have no idea what I meant by “responsible” and you didn’t bother to ask – because you have an agenda and don’t tolerate people that think the earth’s resources should be used – except in a way that “trusted” government officials say they should. Government; once the servant, has now become the master…

          Rape of the planet? So, what can be used in the earth and what can’t? Who decided that? Why should anyone care who decided that? Oil can’t be used. Coal can’t be used. Can natural gas? Can minerals be mined? Can we use minerals for our iPhones?

          Waiting…

  2. Continued:

    Although we have made vast advancements in society, over the past 100 years. It seems, we have been living in the dark ages compared to our potential. Nicola Tesla, as difficult to deal with as he was, was a great great man.

        1. True. A lead-acid battery is 100% recyclable and can be recycled profitably. But then, so are aluminum cans and we throw enough of them away every year to completely replace the entire domestic air fleet twice. We may be slow learners.

  3. There would have to be some way to have a system of self-driving taxis be able to self-clean, self-remove left behinds, all kinds of hurdles that make me think the author is living in one of those “legal” states.

    1. Yes. I see these being targeted to urban areas that will become “No Personal Auto Drive Zones”. If you live outside Manhattan or Boston, you will commute via public transit or your car to the Zone perimeter where a fleet of these new cars will be tasked for getting you around town. Could make going to these currently over congested centers of business and entertainment a lot more fun.

    1. Because electric drive motors can be powered by any energy source you want to use, whether natural gas, gasoline, diesel, fuel cell/hydrogen where batteries/super capacitors are the interim storage point.

      Electric drive can let the energy source operate at optimal efficiency.

      You may need 150 horsepower internal combustion engine to handle what a consumer expects for acceleration.

      Electric drives may need 40 hp in a gas engine or fuel cell to keep batteries or super capacitors up for the same electric drive motor performance.

      1. Locomotives have worked on this principle since George Westinghouse’s day. A diesel generator with electric motors on each wheel moves a lot of cargo around this country every day.

  4. “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent car,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

    1. Every industry has the same quote. It must be something they learn in overpaid executives school. It’s usually set to the tune of “Whistling Past the Graveyard”.

  5. This is a mistake for all Silicon Valle companies. This not like a failed PostScript Laser Printer or family entertainment system. There are liabilities in making cars that Silicon valley has never had to deal with. And you can’t just M$ a product because initial sales sucked. The people who own those cars have rights under lemon laws and the maker will have to pay the buyer.

  6. They talk like Apple will have their hoagie guy designing the car. No, they’ll hire car people who have both deep experience and deep frustration with the status quo. It won’t be a computer company making cars, it’ll be a new car company making cars.

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