Asymcar Retired


Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer discuss the politics, processes and possibilities of cars in light of: 1. Young people deferring drivers licenses. 2. The growth of car sharing. 3. Practical alternative power trains. 4. Urbanization. 5. Increased Congestion. 6. Driverless cars. 7. Rise of the "App Economy".

Hosted by Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer.

#14: Grand Prix

June 16, 2014 at 12:00PM • 54 minutes

Ossi Oikarinen, Horace and Jim dive into the culture, interests, rules, technology and organization of Formula 1 and DTM racing. We explore the driver’s role in an increasingly technology driven competition while comparing Germany’s DTM series with America’s NASCAR. We consider racing’s future in light of the replacement of the broadcast TV model with pay per view.

#13: Pilgrimages and Fundamental Evil

May 20, 2014 at 12:00PM • 56 minutes

On continental road trips, joys of rear wheel drive, diesel engines and autobahn speeds, pilgrimage to Porsche and BMW’s brand meccas. How to understand the world through toy cars, from Matchbox to Hot Wheels, Siku, Majorette to Tomica. Jim returns to the business of car distribution with an Alfred Sloan quote: “Between 1923–29 the leveling of demand for new cars logically resulted in a change of emphasis in the industry from production to distribution. On the sales end that meant a change from easy selling to hard selling. Dealer problems of an entirely new nature began to arise.” We consider car dealer data and discuss the “channel stuffing” origins of state franchise regulation. Horace reminds us that the current auto industry is constructed around production and distribution. We close by reflecting on Apple’s routing around now defunct computer retail channels via its highly successful stores, just 13 years ago.

#12: Cycle Times

April 15, 2014 at 12:00PM • 1 hour 2 minutes

Jim shares the joys of two recent rural road trips. The changing landscape, from discarded bank buildings and big box stores to a lack of traffic on these roads offers an opportunity to reflect on the atrophying auto eco-system. Horace notes the behavior changes leading to reduced use of autos. Alternatives, including bicycles, public transport, walking and car sharing services can be used to move atoms in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner. Jim reflects on Ford’s $1,500,000 facility subsidy to a small town car dealership – in a community that lacks a grocery or clothing store. Perhaps the growing American use of “subprime” auto loans to “move the metal” explains the bricks and mortar strategy. Horace counters that people are figuring out ways to get things done without moving atoms. We marvel – again – at the industry’s glacial pace of change and contrast the auto industry’s tiny volumes to smartphones and personal computers. We conclude with a look at today’s youth culture and consider the sense that driving is for old people.

#11: The Thin Red Line

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.

#10: Asleep at the Switch

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.

#9: Stasis: Depreciation, Brands, Information Intransigence

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.

#8: The EcoV

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.

#7: The Transporationist

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

#6: Peak Horse

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.

#5: A Faster Horse

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.