Category Archives: Podcast

Asymcar 25: The Selfie Experience

Selfie Ford Deluxe

Capgemini’s Mathew Desmond joins us to discuss Cars Online 2015: “The Selfie Experience, The evolving power of the connected customer.”

We begin with the finding that “One-half of customers are interested in buying a car from a tech company like Apple or Google. This is true even of customers who are
satisfied with their current brand and dealer experience. It is particularly true of young customers (65%) and those in growth markets (China: 74%; India: 81%).

Backing up a bit, we discuss the automaker’s dilemma, that is the legacy manufacturing, distribution and support infrastructure and contrast that with the “clean slate” approach an entrant might enjoy.

The concept and inherent conflicts of a “Master Customer Record” fuels a deeper dive into “Continuity”, the buyer’s desire for a seamless experience.

Finally, we reflect on the perils that may lie ahead as the auto ecosystem attempts to improve the retail experience.

28mb mp3 about 58 minutes.

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Show Notes:

Cap Gemini’s Cars Online 2015.

rocketfuel: How important is brand to car buyers? Summary.

Ron Johnson’s failed JC Penney transformation.


Apple’s Newton.

Asymcar 22: The Goddess

“From the moment an idea is worth having no one cares what it costs” – Andre Citroën

The incomparable Citroen DS (French homophone: déesse), 60 years old this year.  Hydropneumatic, self-levelling suspension aerodynamic and interior design efficiency, swiveling headlights, novel construction methods. Ahead of its time even in 1985. Why did this iconic design not endure?

We use this parable to analyze Apple Car rumors.

32mb mp3 about 65 minutes.

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Show Notes

The Prada of the Tire Industry

Citroen DS

Stephen Bayley’s paen to the Citroen DS appeared in the February, 2015 print and iPad issue of CAR Magazine.

Asymcar 20: Iconic Design


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.

29mb mp3 about 60 minutes.

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The Future of Cars Looks Very Different: Forget Power and Symbolism, Auto Are Becoming Communication and Utility Tools.

will be paid solely by a percentage of revocation reinstatement fees collected pursuant to this program

Herb Chambers, Auto Dealer Extraordinaire, Will Never Retire.

Possible changes to Europe’s diesel landscape.

Ford’s cap on lifetime service costs.

Porsche’s “baby boxster” project cancelled.

## Correction: Jim mentioned in the podcast that the Uber driver paid $10.00/month. It was $10.00/week.

Asymcar 19: About that Ferrari SUV…

Ferrari FinIn today’s show, Brand managers gone wild!

In other words, why would a brand be smeared all over a set of jobs that it would never be hired to do? 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 Buffett 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”.

30mb mp3 about 61 minutes.

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Mercedes, VW to Thwart Google’s Inroads in Car Data.

Ford CEO Mark Fields One Ford Strategy.

My tips to Warren Buffett in his new career as a car dealer.

Mini’s Sales Slump.

Ferrari Strategy Conflict.

Car sharing: A cheaper alternative to owning a car in the city

Kleemann Mercedes “Supercars”.

Corvair Greenbriar.

Mercedes Smart Car

“it is clear to us that Ferrari has been undershooting its market potential.”

Asymcar 18: Cars of the People

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?

30mb mp3 about 61 minutes.

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1. The naming changes are said to be pushed by marketing chief Ola Källenius, with the executive aiming to bring more clarity to Mercedes’ lineup.

2. Mini cars will soon lose their flavor.

3. Shared Automated Vehicle.

4. The Democratization of Luxury (Stupidity).

5. Top Gear, Cars of the People (James May). iTunes.

Asymcar 17: 27 Quadrillion BTUs


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.

29mb mp3 about 61 minutes.

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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Estimates of US Energy Use

Asymcar 12: Cycle Times

Model Car1

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.

30mb mp3 about 62 minutes.

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Why do we need a new gas tax? Wisconsin DOT Counter DOT

Small towns may have no grocery or clothing store but a car dealership

American subprime lending is back on the road

Asymcar 7: The Transportationist

The End of the French Car


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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Podcast: Tubular exoskeleton-type thing

928 Apple

Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer discuss how to think about cars in this 57 minute podcast. [32MB 57 minute mp3]

Subscribe to Asymcar podcasts: iTunes or RSS


Horace: That is, indeed, probably the most exciting way because an outsider will come in, look at the problem as an information problem not a transportation problem. They’ll look at it and say…This would be my dream.

Someone would say, “You know, I see the job to be done here. The job is people don’t want [to own] cars. Ownership of cars is not just expensive but it’s actually adding a lot of waiting into your life. Waiting in traffic, waiting to park. Waiting at line in the DMV, whatever. You’ve got all these hassles associated with cars… So we’re going to solve your problem of transportation by providing you with less waiting.”

And then they say, “That’s an information problem because knowing where the cars are and so on and allocating the car.” The car at that moment is ‘off-the-shelf’ and you say, “OK, but we’ll just pick whatever cars are available. Oh, if it’s electric it’s even better because our economics are going to be better with electric cars. It won’t break as much and so on.”

The innovator in this case looks at it as an information problem, attacks a job to be done that’s on that, uses off the shelf technology which is just a city car with electric drive, and then goes back to the manufacturer and tells them, ‘You know what would make them better is if we had this, that, or the other thing.'”

And then the manufacturer would say, “Thanks, we’ll get back to you in five years.”

You don’t have that time. So you say, “No, I want to have it done in the next six months.”

Then you start to think, “You know what? Maybe I can make the car myself.”

That is really the spark of a potential story…And that’s the cool thing is it’s the same thing that happened with smartphones where Apple said, “In order for us to get a better phone we need to solve these problems and that may involve getting into new businesses.”

You get into apps. You get into services. You get into Siri. You get into…Suddenly you’re solving a whole set of different problems.

Jim: Owning and leasing capital equipment.

Horace: Yeah. But the fuel was the huge profit you got because you solved a job. The fuel to get you into the new industries is supplied in ample quantities, beyond what you can absorb. And so suddenly, this guy was making a business selling information, really, to consumers about where to get a car at a time when they need it and not to get a car when they don’t need it. That simple shift makes them, hopefully, wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. They say, “You know what? I have so much capital now I can buy a car company.” And they’re actually quite cheap to buy because, as you know, they don’t make much money. And so, they’re usually wasting assets.

You go in and they could go and grab Saab, for example. Boom, just pick up Saab for peanuts or pick up a brand out of the UK or something and the Indians did. They bought Jaguar. They bought Land Rover. BMW bought Mini, which was essentially a defunct brand in the UK, as well.

You can get that and you get the brand and you get some tooling, some facilities, some distribution network, whatever. Throw most of it away and rebuild the business along the lines that serve this need. And so, they would then create a niche for themselves in electric vehicles optimized around the job to be done of not being owned.