Podcast 2: Is Tesla Disruptive? Also Segway, Multiair, Winglet, Organ Donors & Regulation Über Alles

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. [24MB 57 minute mp3]

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  • j.bigfoot

    Electric delivery vans were produced in England and the US. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modec

    http://www.estar-ev.com/ [Navistar]

  • OliverBruce

    Horace and Jim,

    I was curious about your discussion of the Segway and why it didn’t catch on. All the points were there, but it didn’t click in the markets it was entering largely because it was too expensive for what it was perceived to replace (walking) and didn’t solve the regulatory hurdles to entry before it entered the market, resulting in it being banned or forced to compete with cars for road space. Not optimal.

    There is one place in the world that the electric two wheeler has caught on though. Only, its not Segways. The electric scooter market in China is 30m vehicles a year. They can be picked up for US$500 or so, making them cheaper than their gas powered equivalents:
    “The affordability of e-bikes is one of the big attractions. A gasoline-powered motorcycle costs from between RMB 5,000 and RMB 8,000 (US$788 and US$1,261), compared with a price tag of between RMB 1,500 and RMB 3,000 for an e-bike. What’s more, some e-bikes can also cover reasonably long distance. “I was surprised to see that some e-bikes have a range of more than 100 kilometers on a single charge. Can you imagine? It means those e-bikes are powerful enough to even travel [the 100 kilometers] from Shanghai to Suzhou,” says Li.”
    From:http://www.knowledgeatwharton.com.cn/index.cfmfa=printArticle&articleID=2491&languageid=1

    The key drivers here have been the banning of petrol equivalents in many cities because of issues with air pollution. They’re cheaper because they tend to run on lead acid rather than li-ion batteries. They benefit from the significant cycle infrastructure that China already had previously.

    Time Magazine did a great story on these a few years ago.
    “Motorcycles are too dangerous, cars are too expensive, public transportation is too crowded and pedal bikes leave you too tired, so people buy e-bikes.”
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1904334,00.html

    They’re not for everyone, but they’re how ~200m Chinese people choose to transport themselves around cities cheaply.

  • claimchowder

    Horace,
    you may want to check out Ex-F1 Designer Gordon Murray’s T25 (gas) or T27 (electic) cars and their radically new production process called iStream at http://www.gordonmurraydesign.com/.
    Looks like something that has disruptive potential. The cars are built from steel tubes and a replacement for CFK which is made from recycled plastic and paper but has strength in the ballpark of classic carbon fibre.

  • Tim Sweetman

    UPS seem to be using a mixture of electric/combustion-engine hybrids and hydraulic “hybrids” (a hydraulic accumulator providing regenerative braking). There are certainly hybrid diesel-electric buses starting to appear, too – I don’t know what their economics are like, but there certainly ought be scope for regenerative braking to be desired on a large vehicle that stops frequently.