Motor Trend asked three industry experts about the Apple Car as well as their general thoughts of the future of vehicles.
Who are the “experts”?
Larry Burns was the corporate vice president of R & D for General Motors. There his primary focus was on innovation and technology. Burns has a personal interest in electric, connected, and autonomous vehicles. He also was an advocate for advanced battery technology, fuel cells, and bio fuels. He co-authored a book called Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century.
John Krafcik is currently Chief Executive Officer for the Self-Driving CarProject at Alphabet Inc. (otherwise known as Google). Prior to this, Krafcik was the president and CEO of TrueCar, after having held the same titles previously at Hyundai Motor America, Inc. Earlier in his career, Krafcik worked for Ford for 14 years after satisfying an engineering position at at NUMMI (GM/Toyota joint venture).
Chris Borroni-Bird is the Vice President for Strategic development at Qualcomm. The company’s focus is using wireless technology to reinvent transportation. Before this, Bird was GM’s Director of Advanced Technology Vehicle Concepts and EN-V Program (Electric Networked-Vehicle). He also led GM’s autonomy center. At Chrysler, Bird led the fuel cell division. Bird was the other author that collaborated with Larry Burns on Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century. He holds over 40 patents.
Now that you know the background, high level of expertise, and validity of these three gurus, read on to see what they each had to say about the Apple Car and automotive future.
Burns said of the Apple Car:
“It will likely be electrically driven, it will eventually be driverless, and it will probably entail both personal ownership and sharing. Think Uber without drivers and vehicles tailored to the types of trips people typically make, not the extreme trips we rarely make.”
One reason Burns feels that this is true is that the automakers are having to focus much resources and capital to meet CAFE requirements. By 2025, vehicles must hit 54.5 mpg as mandated by the government. The Apple Car, and similar smaller start-ups or new OEMS making electric cars don’t have to be concerned about CAFE. The new technology will take care of itself.
Krafcik said that there is still very much needed to improve vehicle safety. More than 1.2 million people per year die on roads worldwide. He compares this to a 737 crashing every hour, year round! Human error is responsible for nearly all of these accidents.
Krafcik told Motor Trend:
“Our focus is full autonomy with no driver intervention or monitoring required. This will benefit the most people, and there’s no confusion about whether the computer or the human is in control. It avoids the problem inherent with any dynamic handoff.”
He made it clear that Google, unlike Apple, has no intention of building cars. Krafcik believes that it is a huge undertaking that should be left to established automakers.
Bird’s focus is on vehicle leasing and wireless EV charging.
He believes that since vehicles will be heavily based on the software, leasing may be a better option. The hardware will only allow software updates to a certain extent and for a certain period of time. Eventually, like all technology, there comes a point that it is obsolete. Cybersecurity is also a major concern. Bird assumes that the automakers would rather have the cars come back after a period of time so that they may update them and combat security issues.
With automated parking coming into play, Bird stresses the necessity of wireless charging. Once a car is charged, it can move automatically to a different parking spot so that another car can charge. He says that this would prove very efficient in situations like airport parking, where a car could stay parked for days fully charged. It makes more sense for the car to be able to give the wireless charging spot up after reaching capacity.
Bird also shared:
“What any company in this space is trying to do is come up with something that’s compelling in terms of design and user experience; an example is the integration of the smartphone ecosystem, the Apple Store. That was a differentiator in that space. The rest of the vehicle is going to be, I shouldn’t say commoditized, but it’s not going to be the prime differentiator. However, the ability to provide an extremely comfortable ride and avoid bumps so people can read without getting motion sickness is going to become more useful. At the moment, though, there is a constraint on the number of software engineers. That might lead car companies to pool resources.”
Source (Motor Trend)