The core urban electric vehicle proposition will almost inevitability be a Taxi to my mind - so that's where the play is!...
OK - so what will the 'known but never seen' iCar be?
My thinking is single and multiple occupancy vehicles. iTaxi(s) I suspect that's not a surprise proposition to many...
Tim & Jean
As evidenced by a number of recent events - but most graphically the investment/partnership in China's Didi Chuxing - this is where the market is...and where the money is (or will be).
Maybe they'll be vehicles that are never actually sold...simply put into service.
A minimised start-to-finish proposition aimed at maximising efficiency and utilisation.
No middle man to muddle with it all adding little benefit and adding cost. After all, these guys have a maxim - 'think different'
"Apple has likely spent upwards of a few billion dollars on Project Titan so far - when including real estate and stock-based compensation. When considering that Apple will likely be spending upwards of $14 billion per year on R&D by 2017 or 2018, Project Titan could easily end up being a $10-$15 billion project before Apple even ships a product.
This is uncharted territory not just for Apple, but for the entire auto industry."
Neil Cybart - www.aboveavalon.com
There are a few other spectacular Chinese enterprises taking to the dance floor - and I think we are more likely to see team routines rather than simply happy couples...
Tim's Friend Terry
As its happens, I know a bit about the traditional Taxi market having worked at Coventry's iconic Black Cab Company for a few years (2004-7) - in both the UK and USA (amazingly we had a Hybrid Taxi and a ride hailing 'App' over a decade ago!).
The supply and demand of rides from London's legendary 'knowledge-masters' (Black Cab Drivers) has a been a carefully calibrated business model for many years. Unmatched anywhere in the world for the drivers epic sense of place - driving a vehicle fit for 'purpose' - and as ubiquitous as the Big Red London Bus.
Whilst relatively unchanged and unchallenged for a very long time - the last few years have seen seismic shift. Within all parts of the industry and across the globe.
Although I've been away from the taxi trade whilst at electric vehicle start-up Modec (2007-11), during my time at Ricardo (2011-14) I had a small foray into the shared-taxi market when I was invited on to the Advisory Board of JumpinStudent - Founders Sam Ryan and Barney Williams did a great job with that, and then successfully sold out to Addison Lee. Smart young chaps - so look out for them around all this!
You ain't seen nothing yet!
As 'Commander-In-Chief' of Global assets, the IOT now ruthlessly pursues efficiency/utilisation...
Recommended reading - Intelligent Assets
Without unravelling the bits and pieces in and around it all - and to cut to the chase - we are now witnessing sunset on an industry in my view. Around the world, and forgive the generalisation, the taxi experience is pretty poor with either service or cost - or both! Both cabs and drivers stand idly by between fares...often with an engine running. That may have 'worked' in the past but it will not pass muster for the future. Uber (& Didi Chuxing) triumphed mostly because they have a simple market proposition - better than the incumbents...although they too have considerable room for improvement!
Oh, and sorry to seem disingenuous to the UK's Metrocab and The London Taxi Company - both of whom have competing electric product propositions - but zero emission 'capable' is close...but I suspect London's new Mayor may well be presented with a superior end-game solution to mitigate tailpipe pollution - he's a man on an (e)mission for that BIG issue if you review his manifesto.
And so for the good news - but probably not for the established taxi industry - it's ALL set to change.
Right Vehicle - Right Time - Right Price
I think Apple will present a proposition within a couple of years into this market. A Family of iTaxi's that will be...
ACE - Autonomous Electric Connected.
Crucially - I can envisage the infrastructure to support it all too!...
The market is ripe for such a product/service, and there's a recurring revenue proposition to sustain it all. It will be one big 'private hire' marketplace with data-tracking to die for!
Would I be sad to see an inexorable decline and the ultimate demise of The Black Cab Trade?
It is a magnificent community of dedicated, proud people - both drivers and their families alike. However, there are many things that are likely to be changed by mass urbanisation and a host of other challenges - so without doubt, it will be heads ruling hearts - and data driving the big decisions.
It is isn't (TfL) Transport for London behind things...it's Transport for All
Billion Dollar bets aren't for the fainthearted - so if you been spending billions on R&D (and Apple have) you need to be highly confident that you'll ultimately have ROI to justify it all.
Simply building a car, van, truck, or bus and banking on a bit of the market buying your wares was the 20th Century modus operandi.
That was also where much of the inefficiencies now being driven out resided of course.
Not so for the folk busy under the watchful gaze of Mr Cook & Co at Zip 95014 They're building a 21st Century business model that loops together the IOT and will seek out value in a close-future circular economy - or at least I hope they are!
A mobile phone paired on demand with wheels that rarely stop turning...