Asymcar 8: The EcoV

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.

36mb mp3 about 67 minutes.

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Henry Ford Production System

Toyota Production System

  • Koeppe


    Just wanted to comment about something Mr Marks said. He began by saying that he is very objective, it is the only way he can see things. Everything he says sounds good until the driverless car comments. I realize that getting a computer to understand everything to actually be in total control of the car is complicated and difficult but “you could get broadsided by anyone”?
    There is only one way to be safe in that situation and that is with the computer driving the car. Humans can not look two opposite directions at once let alone front and back. A computer can use more inputs at once than any human will ever be able to use. A truly objective person would look forward to the day the computer could drive the car.
    Very interesting discussion about car companies and electric cars. Mr Marks makes a lot of sense.
    Good show Horace!

    Future Tesla owner

    • robbie

      I have to say that I took issue with several things Richard Marks said, and I’m going to paraprase.
      1) He said that because Elon Musk doesn’t have automotive experience, that Tesla’s future is in doubt. I’m pretty sure that is an asset, and hopefully this will lead to questioning of the status quo and not being burdened with past methodologies and thinking.
      2) His comments regarding technology (compatibility with smartphones and infotainment systems) were baffling. His excuse for not adding current tech to his car was that the intelligence of half the population on the planet wasn’t sufficent to be able to actually work that tech. I was hoping that crazy viewpoint would have been challenged by Horace or Jim.
      He should have stated that the current price point of the car wouldn’t allow that tech to be added. I would have been OK with that. I’m not sure why he chose to say that.
      It is clear that Richard Marks is an engineer. Engineers can design products that are great on the drawing board, but will never graduate to commerically viable products. His math is probably accurate on the cost effectiveness of his product. But ultimately the market decides if a product can make it into the real world. After listening to his comments, I don’t have any confidence that his product will ever make it.

      • Bruce_Mc

        1) As has been said many times on Asymcar, Tesla is using standard methods of manufacturing automobiles. They are not innovating in manufacturing. Having people who know standard automobile manufacturing on board seems like it would be an asset for Tesla.

        2) Richard Marks’ experience with in car infotainment systems provided by domestic car manufacturers has informed him that they are too complicated – not good enough for many people. I think Horace and Jim would agree with that. I think they did agree.

      • Karun R

        CFO – previously at Ford
        Chief Designer – Mazda
        VP Sales – Daimler
        VP Manufacturing – Toyota, Volvo, Mack and Renault

        Maybe they have too much past industry experience and are not innovating in new manufacturing techniques?

        I am also not convinced by the modular approach. Would we expect Apple to continue to innovate if they used off the shelf components? Instead we praise Apple for delivering customized versions of ARM etc.

        • Horace Dediu

          Modularity helps when the core product is “good enough”. By core product I mean the body/chassis and interior and suspension. Everything except the powertrain. I don’t see the need for powertrain innovation to require a completely new integrated car design. As far as I can tell, Tesla makes no attempt to revolutionize car production.

  • Bruce_Mc

    Postal vehicles were mentioned as a good market for small, lightweight, relatively low range electric vehicles. In my town there is some debate going on about switching meter maid carts over to electricity. I don’t think competition from the big auto manufacturers will be a problem in that market!

    I really enjoyed the comments by Mr. Marks, and I wish him well. Here is someone who lived and worked with people who had the attitude of “contempt” for anything new and had “gasoline in their veins.” Yet he found something new to believe in and was able to move from the mindset of everyone around him and put his work life into this new idea.

    I hope that his business is successful, but by choosing to think for himself and to act on those thoughts I believe he is already living a successful life.