A little over a year ago, my father insisted that I try out a new app for the iPhone. More than just an app, it was a service. And more than the typical service that is consumed on the iPhone itself, it was one that took place in the real world . No bits and bytes . The iPhone app was just a way to activate it. I had just returned from a stay of almost a year in Canada, where I learned the hard lesson that in a village lost in a mountain if you do not have a car, you can not do much.
Public transport leaves a lot to be desired even in big cities. In general, all of North America is like this. You need the car for everything and everything is designed for the car. So when I arrived in Madrid, the possibility to move by car again caught my attention . The service in question is Car2Go, which has a recent competitor called emov. I have been using electric car sharing for a little over a year now. An experience that has led me to rethink the debate on the Apple Car.
The comfort of driving a car without owning it
I have been living in Madrid for more than eight years. During my arrival, I started to think about buying a car. However, my intuition told me that it was not worth it to spend so much for the little use I would give it . And now we can put a number to that intuition. 97% of the time your car is parked, why should I ask for a credit, spend thousands of euros and have to deal with paperwork if in the end I am not going to use it so much?
Today, a car is a dead weight for the budget of thousands of people. So much so that in Xataka a few days ago they spoke of the existence of two Spain’s in terms of car transport: one in small towns and the other in big cities. Companies like Car2Go, whose owner is Daimler AG, and the new incorporation to the emov “rodeo”, of the PSA group. The operation of both companies is almost identical :
- Download the app and register. Links: Car2Go and emov.
- You register as a user.
- Both need to verify your driver’s license and its validity. In the case of Car2Go, I had to go to a location in the center of Madrid to verify it. In emov I could do it from the app itself by sending a photo of the license.
- Enter your credit or debit card and once your driver’s license has been verified, you can use the app on your iPhone.
Both show a map of Madrid with the locations of the available cars. We have a reservation time to ensure a vehicle where we need it . When we get to the car, we unlock it from the iPhone. We enter the car, take the key out of the glove box or the dashboard, start the car and we can drive.
Both vehicles are electric and automatic, which makes driving them a pleasure. No noise. Very smooth. Simple. Car2Go has a fleet of 500 two-seater Smart, perfect for parking anywhere. emov has another 500 Citroën C-Zero, but with four seats . Each one has strengths in situations where the other is lame. But for the ordinary user, the result is that you have 1,000 electric cars at your disposal.
You pick them up on the street, parked in a white, blue or green area, making sure it’s not loading and unloading (big advantage, electric cars don’t pay SER). You can leave the “almond” of Madrid, but always leave it inside. Otherwise the meter will keep going up. And both have the same price: 19 cents a minute.
The Vehicle of the Future
The attraction of carsharing is undoubtedly for people who only need it on a punctual and not constant basis. You open an app, book it, walk to the car, get in, drive and then park it anywhere. Without paying to BE. Without paying for gas . Without paying a driving licence or insurance. You no longer need to have your own car to enjoy its advantages.
It is clear that the automobile is facing its greatest transformation since Henry Ford created mass production. A centuries-old industry that technology has done nothing but improve. Not threatening its existence. Until now. We are witnessing three major changes in the automotive industry :
The attraction of carsharing is undoubtedly for people who only need it on a timely basis and not constantly
- Electrification of the engine, something that greatly simplifies the manufacture of a car. An electric motor has far fewer parts than a combustion engine. Less development and less capital requirements.
- Car sharing, which questions the benefits of car ownership and puts other options on the table.
- The autonomy, capable of eliminating the driver and his importance in the cabin. This opens up a range of possibilities for redesigning the interior of a vehicle that were previously unthinkable.
Most companies today, whether in Silicon Valley, Detroit or Europe, accumulate two of the three points. Car2Go and emov face the first two . Tesla to the first and last. In the future, many are clear that they will need a combination of all three to prevail in the market. And that’s where Apple’s Project Titan comes in.
Apple Car: thinking differently
The rumored Apple car has changed its focus. During the first stage, we saw Apple hiring staff from car companies. Without knowing anything concrete about the company’s plans, we can speculate that in its beginning Apple aspired to create a Tesla competitor . An electric car (check) and that in the future it would gain autonomous skills (check ) but that it followed the model of car in ownership ( error ).
In my opinion, Apple changed course last summer when it brought Bob Mansfield back from retirement. Probably to cope with the rise of carsharing. But if you want to change the world, it is not enough to fulfill the three points above. You need something else .
Forget everything you know about a desirable car: speed, sporty design, power. The Apple Car will appeal to other attributes
Mucho talento se va de Apple, pero más talento se queda.
Alex Barredo painted the Apple car this way. Something in which the exterior design does not prevail but the space inside. A kind of Harry Potter-style Room of the Menester, where the vehicle adapts to the needs of the passenger and not the other way around . Where all passengers are at the same height and do not go after the current protagonist: the driver.
The Apple Car will be a service of autonomous and electric transport vehicles. Where the user calls for to be picked up and transferred wherever he wants . With capacity for more users on board, like a bus but that picks you up and drops you off where you want. And on the way you can use the time in the way you think best: work or play. In this way, traffic jams stop being so relevant if they allow the traveler to do other things comfortably.
Suddenly, the 1957 Fiat Multipla that Apple bought a couple of years ago takes on a new meaning. The coming years promise to be very entertaining.