Apple's 'Project Titan' car faces manufacturing roadblocks, could necessitate partnership

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  • Reply 81 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RonMG View Post

     

     

    I didn't say that. Wireless for door locks, window controls, radio, nav, etc. For essential functions it would be drive-by-wire, break-by-wire, etc. Just don't need foot pedals and steering wheels. But I'm sure Apple can come up with a revolutionary way of handling the driving/steering/braking controls. As for other items that are not essential function for driving/steering but very important (i.e. Seat position vs. window controls) there may be wireless as primary control but wired backup, but wired in a way that is not as cumbersome as current cars. Again, has anyone pulled an instrument panel lately?!?!? OMG, the AMOUNT and SIZE of the wiring is astronomical. Apple will find ways around that with back-up capability so as not to lose complete access to all functions. But my key item was removal of legacy automobile items that are essentially worthless now, like steering columns and foot pedals. So much is drive-by-wire anymore that these items add cost and weight and take up a lot of space.




    Fair enough then, I stand corrected.  I don't see the need to reinvent the steering wheel and pedals though.  Even if there was an alternative that works better, I think it will be like the Dvorak keyboard: Not enough of an improvement to overcome QWERTY inertia.   But yeah, the endless wiring.  Wasn't there a proposal to replace all that with a single loop of fiberoptic cable?

  • Reply 82 of 126
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    The ugly thing here is government regulation, Apple isn't as free as you imagine to change the design of a car. They would have to overcome massive hurdles just to delete the steering wheel.

    I'm not disagreeing with your theme here as much could happen to leave behind old manufacturing approaches. The problem is they would have to deliver provably better technology that the regulators would accept as a replacement for existing approaches. Braking is a perfect example, nothing really changes here significantly. There is little difference between today's brakes and the stuff I worked on in the seventies.

    Beyond all of that I think you underestimate how much of today's automobiles are made by subcontractors. The auto industry itself has done much to improve the controls and sub assemblies in an automobile.
    ronmg wrote: »
    My comments were more geared toward the inefficiencies related to current automobiles and how archaic they are. Read some of my later posts. Steering wheel, floor pedals, hundreds of pounds of wiring throughout the vehicle. Read my post about how Apple can change all that, and also how they could buy components that are completely assembled and ready to be connected together, Bluetooth control of motors, switches, etc. There are SO many ways Apple can change the way cars are built. 3D printing. Buying modules already containing motors, air bags, etc. Can receive these larger components and assembly could be as simple as they assemble the Mac Pro in the USA. I am just tired of people saying 'but no way they can change the way xxx are built' - I mean, really? Apple has changed SO MANY industries already. The automobile is ripe to improve dramatically. Take away the steering wheel and foot pedals and put in a small, ingenious way to steer and drive a car. Take away the controls and the instrument panel and the radio and the navigation displays and the mirrors and the window controls and the door lock controls and the thousands of feet of wiring associated with all of it, and replace it with an iPad Pro and an iPhone controlling it all. Can't you see the forest for the trees? The legacies of the internal combustion engine and the transmission and the starter and the steering wheel and the foot pedals and the shifter and the instrument cluster are holding GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota - all of them back. Apple can see past all of that. But, only if they want to, and I'm not totally convinced they want to yet.

    For all we know, Apple has mastered 3D printing of liquid metal parts. There's the Apple Car body in a revolutionary way. Buying modular components that snap together with instantaneous wiring and connections established without wire connections. Vehicles are so much simpler when you replace the stuff that began 130 years ago in the first cars with the latest hardware technology and software.
  • Reply 83 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

     



    Until charging time gets down to about 3 minutes (the time it takes to pump a tankful of gas), electrics will never be a dominant factor in large cities where most people live in apartment buildings, like NYC.


     

    This is especially true if winters regularly hit single digits in your area.  I'm keeping clear of pure electrics until somebody builds one that runs on (easily refillable) fuel cells not batteries.

  • Reply 84 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by LarryA View Post





    Apple has a 40% profit margin on iPhones. Daimler is the most profitable of the three luxury German makes and has an 8% margin.



    http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-luxury-race-profits-get-dented-1426208841

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by LarryA View Post





    Fair enough- still doesn't seem like a very green pasture to me.

     

    Really, it's a industry ripe for disruption with hundreds of billions in revenues with a very high barrier to entry.

    What the hell other industry with that kind of money do you think exists beside this one.

    I'll give you a hint : very few.

    - Financial Services is top world wide business (Apple just entered it in a big way by financing its own phones), and Apple Pay

    - Energy is second biggest world wide business (Apple's only presence, substantial investment in battery tech lately)

    - Transport Industry (Apple seemingly very interested)

    - Consumer electronics and computer hardware & softwares (We know were Apple Stands here)

    - Consumer Goods (Dominated by conglomerates like P&G, Nestle, etc, Apple never going there).

    - Telecom (Apple has no direct play right now)

    - Retail (A fragmented mostly low margin affair except at the high end were Apple plays very well)

    - Industrial Products and Services (firms like GE and Siemens and Samsung, Apple got no direct presence here)

    - Business Services and product (IBM, MS, etc) (Apple sells products here, but lacked proper chanels, now has IBM and Cisco)

    - Health Care (Apple is starting to enter this area)

     

     

     

    Apple wants to go in an area with lots of money and a very high barrier to entry that is ripe for change.

    - Cars still are mostly like 110 years ago, that's pretty ripe for change.

    - Healthcare Services are also a area of great mess and potential either direct profits, or more likely a free adjunct to ecosystem that drives profits elsewhere.

     

    - Apple won't enter energy except in battery production for internal use.

    - They'll leave Business services to specialists and provide those specialist strong support and hardware.

     

    - Entertainement and media production is sexy, but not a high revenue compared to others, and certainly not high margin as a whole (very cyclical too). Only Disney is in the top 100 Forbes company (close to 100). They extend into it as a adjunct to their ecosystem (where they accept a bit lower margins than in their hardware sales).

  • Reply 85 of 126
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    zoetmb wrote: »

    Until charging time gets down to about 3 minutes (the time it takes to pump a tankful of gas), electrics will never be a dominant factor in large cities where most people live in apartment buildings, like NYC.  
    There is a nuclear war coming, so those buildings won't be a problem in the near future.
     Sure, the .1% who live in town-houses can put a charger in, but co-ops and condos like the one I live in are never going to put chargers into their garages where they'd probably need one for every three cars at minimum.    And even if they did, the cost of electricity here (34 to 37 cents per KW/hr, fully loaded) would make it far more expensive than gasoline, especially at today's low gas prices, although that can certainly change again as it's done in the past.
    There is a real world outside of the idiocy of New York City. Travel a bit and you might open your eyes to a better way of life.
    The other factor is that we tend to think of electric cars as the solution to environmental problems.   I consider myself to be an environmentalist, but until we have self-charging or solar electric cars, all we're doing is pushing the pollution from our individual car to the power plant.   Most power plants (except for hydro and nuclear) still use fossil fuels to generate electricity and they would have to generate far more electricity if electric cars became mainstream.
    The thought process is that bulk electrical generation is far more efficient and it is far easier to manage pollutants. You can argue this one for hours as there are a massive number of factors involved.
    In NYC, I have NEVER seen a Tesla outside of a showroom, even with all the super-rich people that live here.  
    Contrary to popular myth the rich didn't get rich by laying about. Most of these people work very hard for their money and as a result won't mess around with something that they feel will slow them down. As such I wouldn't expect the rich to jump on the electric car bandwagon.
    If Apple is going to partner with a traditional car maker, I really don't see what Apple brings to the table, aside from a nice UI on the media system, which they license to other car manufacturers anyway.   And the margins in a car that people can actually afford are very small.
    It isn't that bad.
      Most of the profit for dealers is in accessories and financing.   The base profit at the dealer level is frequently less than the margin on a Mac.   Apple hasn't yet produced an iPhone with a battery that lasts much more than a day, but they think they can manufacture electric car batteries within five years?    Talk about a reality distortion field. 
    The way cars are sold and financed to the dealers is interesting and troublesome. However margins can be very good on some vehicles.
    But I'll give Apple this:  if they did produce a reasonably priced future tech car that didn't turn out to be a disaster, there would be lines at their car dealerships.  People would go nuts for such a car.   

    Err no! In my world anyways I have dismissed tech in vehicles as much as possible. Mainly for reliability. I go out of my way to find a vehicle with manually operated Windows just to avoid the breakage that comes from frozen Windows. Simple means less things to fail, less things to fail means the truck will start when it is -20°F.
  • Reply 86 of 126
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by foggyhill View Post

     

    - Transport Industry (Apple seemingly very interested)




    Building a car seems like a departure from their usual business model and doesn't really jibe with their ecosystem strategy.

     

     

    Quote:


    - Telecom (Apple has no direct play right now) 


    This is an area that I wish Apple would enter as it is a perfect dovetail with their existing product line.

  • Reply 87 of 126

    This makes me think of this... 

     

     

    And we know how that worked out in the end.

  • Reply 88 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    This is an area that I wish Apple would enter as it is a perfect dovetail with their existing product line.


     

    Inside the car is the experience part, expecially if you'Re freeed up from driving.

  • Reply 89 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

     

     

    The may look terrific but they don't look like Jaguars.  Actually, if they look like anything, they look like early 2000s BMWs with a different grill slapped onto them.  The shape of the side glass panel right behind the passenger's door window (how it curves back forward as it veers away from the C-pillar) is a BMW design cue from waaaaay back.

     

    Just sad that the new ownership did not honor Jaguar's rich tradition.  Used to be, like BMW and MB, or even Volvo, you could tell a Jag was a Jag without seeing the emblem or logo.  You couldn't say that of Lexus, Infinity or Acura.  Heck, if MINI was able to keep the Mini DNA, why not Jaguar?




    I'm a fan of the 3-series, so I guess that's why I like them. But you are correct, they don't look like Jags of old. The first time I saw a picture of the XE,  I thought it was a refreshed BMW. The proportions and lines are so similar.

  • Reply 90 of 126
    tundraboy wrote: »
     
    My take on Jaguar/Rover, or at least the Jaguar part is that they turned their backs on their very rich design heritage and cranked out nondescript everycars that have no personality at all.  From the early Jaguars to the XK and XJ lines, you could trace a design theme that is distinctly Jaguar, recognizably British.  Then you get the current sedans which have no connection at all to that rich heritage.  I guess they decided to stop competing directly with deep-tradition lux-performance marques like BMW and MB and chose to become a European Lexus. Seems that's what sells today to a design aesthetic heavily influenced by iPods and iPhones where everything must be made to look completely new every couple of years or people will assume the underlying tech is obsolete.  

    Aesthetics is entirely in the eyes of the beholder, and I couldn't disagree more. Look at the F-Type Coupe and tell me it doesn't reflect the Jaguar 'heritage.' I also think that the XJ does. But the XF and XE, less so (even if they look classy and contemporary)
  • Reply 91 of 126
    With GM and Ford shutting down manufacturing in Australia next year, there's a couple of available car factories Apple ????
  • Reply 92 of 126
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,652member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    There is a nuclear war coming, so those buildings won't be a problem in the near future.

    There is a real world outside of the idiocy of New York City. Travel a bit and you might open your eyes to a better way of life.

    The thought process is that bulk electrical generation is far more efficient and it is far easier to manage pollutants. You can argue this one for hours as there are a massive number of factors involved.

    Contrary to popular myth the rich didn't get rich by laying about. Most of these people work very hard for their money and as a result won't mess around with something that they feel will slow them down. As such I wouldn't expect the rich to jump on the electric car bandwagon.

    It isn't that bad.

    The way cars are sold and financed to the dealers is interesting and troublesome. However margins can be very good on some vehicles.

    Err no! In my world anyways I have dismissed tech in vehicles as much as possible. Mainly for reliability. I go out of my way to find a vehicle with manually operated Windows just to avoid the breakage that comes from frozen Windows. Simple means less things to fail, less things to fail means the truck will start when it is -20°F.

    If there's a nuclear war coming, then we don't need electric cars or an Apple car.  In fact, we don't need to worry about much of anything.   IMO, we don't need to worry about nuclear war unless terrorists who don't care whether they live or die get hold of a nuclear weapon and that won't be a war, it will be a short attack and counter-attack and then we'll die.   No State will use a nuclear bomb because everyone is totally aware of mutually assured destruction.   That's one remnant of the Cold War that actually worked. 

     

    Idiocy of NYC?   Some, certainly.   But we also have the lowest level of car ownership (even though the roads are ever more crowded) and highest use of mass public transportation in the country.   Also, lots of culture.   And very low serious crime.  Murders have dropped to 14% of what they were at their peak in 1990.   2014 saw the lowest amount of murders since records were kept regularly beginning in 1960 and were lower than 1928.   It's crowded, but at least we have culture that extends beyond gas stations, shopping malls and high school football.   People actually walk here - I put under 7000 miles per year on my car.   And it's very diverse, although most neighborhoods are still highly segregated.   Over 300 languages are spoken in Queens.   The population is growing, especially with younger people who are needed for the economy to thrive and the economy has always been diverse so even in recessions, the City does pretty well.   Having said that, there are prettier places to live.   It's absurdly expensive, especially in Manhattan and the hipper neighborhoods in the outer boroughs.   Income and real-estate taxes are high.   And we're losing everything that made NYC unique as many of the independent retailers, restaurants and clubs are being forced out by high rents and replaced by the same chains that exist everywhere.  

     

    >>>As such I wouldn't expect the rich to jump on the electric car bandwagon.

    Then Tesla is in big trouble because their cars cost $70,000 and up.   A model with decent range and charging capability is over $100,000.   Who do you think is going to buy them if not the rich?

  • Reply 93 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post





    Aesthetics is entirely in the eyes of the beholder, and I couldn't disagree more. Look at the F-Type Coupe and tell me it doesn't reflect the Jaguar 'heritage.' I also think that the XJ does. But the XF and XE, less so (even if they look classy and contemporary)



    I agree about the F-Type lineage appearance. If Jaguar can chop the top, it'll be the best-looking Jag since the XKE in my opinion.

  • Reply 94 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

     

    Apple need to be talking to FIAT!

     

    I had a 1995 Fiat Tipo Sedicivalvole.  I believe the Tipo and some other models of the era were built in a completely robot automated factory that only employed three people to oversee things.

     

    image




    I had a Tipo Sedicivalvole too! I don't think that many of them were made, there were only something like 170 in the UK, it was a seriously fast tin can that's for sure! 

  • Reply 95 of 126
    tundraboy wrote: »
    You're going wireless on the car's central nervous system?  Are you nuts?

    Maybe they could use OS X Yosemite. I hear it has solid, reliable Bluetooth and Wifi. /s
  • Reply 96 of 126
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

     



    I had a Tipo Sedicivalvole too! I don't think that many of them were made, there were only something like 170 in the UK, it was a seriously fast tin can that's for sure! 




    That is an amazing coincidence.  Mine was one of the last few sold.  Weirdly, I ended up selling it to someone from Denmark who flew to Ireland and drove it back.

  • Reply 97 of 126
    One of the challenges for Apple (and a potential source of iritation for its fans) is that a car is not a "one size/model fits all" type of product. Every demographic can want an iPhone...20 year old single professional, a soccer mom with four kids, a retiree, whatever. Different people want/need vastly different things with cars though. So what would an Apple car be? A sporty two seater? That leaves out families with kids. A four seat compact that favors affordability over performce? The car enthusiasts won't be pleased. Sure, Apple would design an attractive vehicle with a great user experience, but what is your best guess as to what type of car it would be?
  • Reply 98 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

     



    Since the demise of Saab, I believe Honda would be the only car company that builds a plane from nose to tail.


     

    The automotive portion of Saab is dead (or merely resting, in the hands of the Chinese), but the aerospace and defense company is alive and well.  They've been separate entities for a long while, just like Volvo Cars is separate from the trucks/construction/marine business.  In both cases, they share names, and origins, but are now separate businesses.

     

    While Apple could certainly afford to bankroll an automotive manufacturing operation from scratch, novel techniques or not, it still wouldn't be cheap.  Manufacturing white/durable goods is a different kettle of fish, and techniques that Apple is used to won't necessarily translate.

     

    But, given their aversion to in-house manufacturing (the small scale assembly of Mac Pros notwithstanding), a safer bet is a tie-up with an existing marque, or a contract manufacturer like Magna Steyr or Valmet.

     

    The earlier notion that Tesla doesn't have anything "unique" is ignorant, if not laughable.

     

    In fact, they're a good example of what Apple will face if they choose to go down the path and become an automaker.

     

    The most impressive thing they've achieved is not that they've built an electric car, blah blah blah, but the fact that they've managed to start up a real auto manufacturing business, given the time and resources they've had.  Yes, they did have advantages -- the government loans, "buying" the NUMMI plant, etc. -- but being able to design and manufacture a premium quality vehicle, in volume, is no small feat.  Tesla's plant not only does assembly, but a large portion of manufacturing, including stamping, and injection molding.

     

    And, as Musk learned, it wouldn't have been possible with only the Silicon Valley/techiie skill set.  The company wouldn't be anywhere if they hadn't acquired veteran industry talent he initially scorned, from Detroit, and elsewhere, to design the cars and set up the manufacturing.  Which is why you see all of them, Tesla, Apple, and now Google, poaching talent from the industry, and each other.

  • Reply 99 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    Tesla will need to do something. Nothing they have in their cars is proprietary and none of their tech is new. Any car company could build a Model S in short order if they wanted. They're happy right now to let Tesla spend money getting consumers used to the idea of electric vehicles and when the market (and battery technology) is ripe they'll jump in. Tesla will have nothing to separate them from the rest, except for being the first. And Tesla doesn't have nearly as much experience in the other 75% of the vehicle (that's not the powertrain) as other manufacturers.


     

    Apple will need to do something. Nothing they have in their phones is proprietary and none of their tech is new. Any mobile phone company could build a smartphone in short order if they wanted. They're happy right now to let Apple spend money getting consumers used to the idea of smartphones and when the market (and touchscreens) is ripe they'll jump in. Apple will have nothing to separate them from the rest, except for being the first. And Apple doesn't have nearly as much experience in the other 75% of the smartphone (that's not the screen) as other manufacturers.

     

    Like that? Every time I hear someone claim existing car manufacturers choose not to offer something as compelling as Tesla, I have to laugh. Those manufacturers would LOVE to have a car in their offering, and Tesla is making a considerable dent in the high-end luxury sedan segment against the established players. Just yesterday, Porsche announce a concept car to compete with Tesla and match its specs that will "probably" be available within 5 years. 

  • Reply 100 of 126
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member
    Everyone should spend some time listening to Horace Dedieu's podcasts - both Asymcar and recent episodes of the Critcal Path. He appears to have really researched the automotive industry with a focus on manufacturing and disruption. His contention is that the only car manufacturers which have disrupted the industry were ones that introduced a new method of manufacturing. Ford, GM, Toyota mainly. Not that other vendors haven't done well and became viable, but it was these companies that disrupted.

    The current manufacturing methods are efficient for producing at high volumes for a single model, with a very high capital cost upfront. There are companies (like BMW with the i3), and some outside of the car manufacturers, that are prototyping or developing different production methods allowing for more modularity and ability to build at smaller scale.

    Apple is very much directly involved with their product manufacturing, from the design, process, and tooling phases. Do you guys think they just send a set of blueprints and parts over to Foxconn and ask them to figure out how to make the iPhones in quantity and with high quality? I would bet that Apple knows more about manufacturing CE at scale and with quality than any other company in the world. With time and the right expertise (outside hires) I have no doubt they could fully understand auto manufacturing, both current processes and how to do it better.

    Whether they should or not is a different question.
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