December 23, 2014 at 12:00PM •
We consider Uber’s street smarts, “cash on the hood” driver acquisition tactics and their ability to operate over the top, that is above local regulations and norms. The proposed elimination of diesel cars in Paris and London ignites a side trip through today’s regulatory labyrinth. Horace reflects on a recent Tesla test drive while evaluating innovation on jobs to be done, form factor design, production methods and their business model. Jim considers Sandy Munro’s recent BMW i3 teardown, which lead him to conclude that “this car makes money”. Might BMW have leaped ahead of Tesla while pumping out 500,000 traditional 3 series this year? We close with news that Porsche has once again rejected an “entry level” sports car project. This, despite their growing SUV and large car portfolio.
November 13, 2014 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 1 minute
What motivates a company to destroy its brand? We start with Mini’s plans to sell 100,000 cars in the States by 2020, nearly double today’s pace and remember how Cadillac destroyed their brand and how Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari et. al. can’t wait to do the same. Also, might retail power in the form of strong dealer regulation limit brand’s ability to improve or address customer experiences? What motivated Warren Buffet to enter the American car dealer business? (With a long aside on what Buffett investment logic is all about and why it’s not contradictory to a growth investor). We detour a bit into the information battle to come and how car makers yearn to be the masters of their own cars.
September 17, 2014 at 12:00PM •
1 hour 1 minute
Why did the Tata Nano fail? What is the future of low end disruption in the auto industry? What does sharing mean for cars? What are the jobs that spaces in cars are hired for that their makers don’t understand? Is Elon Musk an Industrialist?
August 20, 2014 at 12:30PM •
Part I is a review of the “automotive stack” and note how there is no singular event that seems to affect disruptive change. From changing jobs to be done, modular design and manufacturing processes, powertrain evolution, urbanization, environmental interests, regulation and taxation. Part II is a review of a framework of analysis based on sources and uses of energy. Inputs, efficiency/losses, network effects and inertia, what can change and what can’t change. For a shot of theory, Horace reflects on the dichotomy of efficiency vs. efficacy when it comes to predicting change in the sector.
June 26, 2014 at 12:00PM •
Steve Crandall joins us to discuss hydrogen fuel cells vs. lithium batteries. The two alternatives to post-internal-combustion motoring are far harder to assess than it might seem. Both require systems analysis and the systems themselves need to be weighed against the incumbent infrastructure and jobs to be done. We begin with Toyota’s fuel cell sedan announcement and recall Honda’s Clarity. The conversation leads to the observation that technical merit is not always sufficient or even necessary to market adoption success. We note that Toyota supported the Prius through years of low volume. Steve compares this to ATT’s abandonment of a cell service in the 1990?s. Steve compares the energy performance of hydrogen and gasoline and shares a look at the economic conditions necessary for a successful hydrogen fuel cell launch.
June 18, 2014 at 12:00PM •
Matt Grantham joins us to discuss electric vehicles, renewable energy, smarter software, solar opportunities and economics. Matt introduces us to Solar X, the solar car challenge. He reflects on these emerging technologies in light of Australia’s nearly extinct auto manufacturing sector. We explore the concept of a car as the home power source and consider possible EV disruption of traditional power generation and distribution concerns. The potential business models arising from these emerging technologies makes us pause in light of solar firm’s stock performance.
June 16, 2014 at 12:00PM •
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.
May 20, 2014 at 12:00PM •
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.
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.
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.