Help Steve Jobs (Or GM) Design The iCar

Help Steve Jobs (Or GM) Design The iCar

Summary: The discussion of whether Steve Jobs could revitalize the auto industry by working with GM on an iCar (Steve Jobs For President. Of GM?


The discussion of whether Steve Jobs could revitalize the auto industry by working with GM on an iCar (Steve Jobs For President. Of GM?) has been lively. But the bottom line question remains: What should that iCar be?


Let's leave aside what the root causes of the American auto industry's failure to move effectively into the present, much less the future, have been. Or whether the Apple culture is the right one to supplant the GM culture.

What is the blow-'em-away i-gotta-have-one design for a premium-priced but affordable iCar that would live up to the instantly game-changing standard of the iPod and the iPhone?

Bob Warfield at SmoothSpan tried to set out some essentials he would expect from a Jobs' take on the automobile:

--Minimalist and modern. --Innovative use of materials, from carbon fiber to aluminum and unique combinations of glass and plastics. --Unique form of propulsion (at least unique to GM) --Touch panel dashboard --Heads up navigational display --Map to nearest gas station that automatically pops up when the gas gauge hits low --Drop-in slots for iPod or iPhone or other Apples --RSS reader that speaks to you as you drive --Audio system that plays back Internet radio stations

Etc. Take a look.

Interestingly, the possibility of a real-life iCar first came up more than a year ago, after Steve Jobs met with Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn. There is also the conceptualization of an iCar (inserted at the top of this post), which looks suspiciously like one of the colorful "see-through" early iMacs, from 1999, on display at The Apple Collection. It comes from a playful faux "Think Different" ad by Chris O'Riley.

So there's been, one way another, years of thought behind what an Apple-designed iCar would look like and contain.

Now that GM's on the brink of bankruptcy, though: What are your thoughts?

Today, help Steve Jobs design that iCar, with your input. Describe what you'd like to see in it, in a TalkBack post. Or, if you have a design, send it to:

Compelling designs and details will be combined into a Between The Lines post. For Steve.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Browser, Mobility

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  • PLEASE............

    And I suppose when it needs a new battery...I have to spend USD$5,000.00 to ship the car back to Stevie Boy to get it replaced?

    And is he going to limit what type of fuel it runs on, and how often I can fill it up?

    The LAST thing the auto industry needs is input from Steve Jobs.
    • Agreed!

      [i]The LAST thing the auto industry needs is input from Steve Jobs[/i]
    • The first thing

      That's a pretty funny line about the battery.

      And let's focus on details. You may not like Jobs, so let's say you were to do the design work. What is the first thing you would put in an iCar?

      Tom Steinert-Threlkeld
      • Bio-flex fueled power plant.

        I wouldn't make it electric.

        Too many people overlook the fact that in order to charge an electric vehicle, you need a power plant to send you the electricity....and unless your electricity is generated by a nuclear're STILL burning fossil fuels to power your car.
        • It's more basic than even that

          Electric car performance sucks. Because chemical batteries have an energy density that sucks.
          • Sure, Nothing is as good as Gasoline.

            I worked in the automobile industry for years
            including development on hybrid vehicles.

            Gasoline has the best energy density, but its going to
            be gone. A serial electric/gasoline hybrid like GM's
            Chevy Volt is the way to go for the near future. The
            best thing about electricity is that the
            infrastructure for delivery is already in place.
            Plug in your car at night and for most of us you never
            need another fuel. If you need to make a longer trip,
            the on board gasoline generator kicks in and you are
            good to go.

            And don't forget coal. Most electricity is produced
            with it and we have a lot of it.
            Kevin Derby
        • Correction...

          "unless your electricity is generated by a nuclear plant..."

          or biomass...
          or geothermal...
          or hydroelectric...
          or solar...
          or wind power...

          And why dismiss nuclear power anyway? Just because it's not politically correct?

          Nuclear power is far safer than fossil fuels. Thousands of people die every year from cancer and other diseases directly attributable to the burning of fossil fuels, but everyone's terrified of nuclear.

          It's irrational, just as it's irrational to drive a car on the highway, but worry about the safety of airplanes.
          • Yeah... Well... There IS a good reason (or two) for that...

            [b]Nuclear power is far safer than fossil fuels. Thousands of people die every year from cancer and other diseases directly attributable to the burning of fossil fuels, [u]but everyone's terrified of nuclear. [/u][/b]

            1.) Three Mile Island
            2.) Chernobyl

            'Nuff said.
          • I'm not afraid

            I'm not afraid of nuclear so now your post can be changed to some people are terrified of nuclear. "'nuff said.'"
          • Yeah... Well... There IS a good reason (or two) for that...

            Just curious if you could remind me, though. How many deaths were there at Three Mile Island? Well, maybe thats too harsh, how about just injuries. That way we can all be scared. Oh, you mean there were zero. Oh, how was it you said that, "Nuff Said?"
          • so who said I was dismissing nuclear power?

    • $5,000 battery replacement???!!!???

      Oh, for Pete's sakes- get just a little bit real... No, I don't
      think the battery would cost that much, and it would surely
      be user replaceable- the only catch is that you'd have to
      open an iTunes store account to register it...
    • Battery

      You got it wrong, Steve Jobs wouldn't charge you for battery replacement... you would turn in your old car for a new one with 10% off!
    • And is he going to limit what type of fuel it runs on...

      Maybe Tesla Motors is the answer. Their cars run on 100% electricity. 244 miles per charge. Each charge costs about $2-$4 each (according on your rates). And there is a solar charger available...That makes charging FREE! You do the math.

      The life of the battery (which is recycleable) is over 100,000 miles. And with the technology of the Tesla Motors company, Steve would have plenty of input!

      Open your mind, man!

      Besides, the FIRST thing the auto industry is input from new sources. The industry is pitifully well behind the times. The antiquated petroleum based powerplants are going the way of the dinosaurs! This is the 21st century! With the pollution caused by the hundreds of millions of vehicles on this planet, we need a new way of thinking!

      Tesla Motors has at least one solution and their cars are already in production! They are opening dealerships across the country, first quarter, 2009. If Steve negotiates with these people, he might make history. Then the iCar could join the 'electric initiative' and start to clean up this planet!
  • Make it a platform

    Some concepts that need to be included.

    - Fully electric drive. One electric motor on each wheel so that, even when one fails, the others can get you to the repair station.

    - Batteries run the car FULL TIME.

    - Batteries are recharged by either plug-in at home/work or by USER CHANGEABLE power source that can be anything from a gas or diesel engine to a fuel cell. Make it fix in a 'box' that so that 3rd parties can design their own powerplants to slide right in.

    - User-configurable dashboard with voice recognition. Car companies can provide themselves with ancillary income with things like OnStar/Satellite Radio/Traffic/Weather subscriptions.

    - Make the base of the car a platform like GM's "surfboard" concept so I can get a sedan while someone else can have a pickup body mated to it.
    • Platform is the way to go forward

      This is great idea. There is or was the idea of skateboard-
      type chassis for a car where you just plunked down the
      body, motor, etc. that you wanted. The skateboard
      provided all of the interconnections.

      There is also the idea of a data-power cable which delivers
      both throughout the car. In other words, a single cable to
      your electric windows provides the power to raise/lower
      them as well as delivering the instructions.

      It would be nice to link to the car via bluetooth from the
      home computer and pull off data stats (miles driven, tire
      pressure, maintenance info.) as well as updating the car's
      systems. And of course, the car should be a wi-fi center
      for any electronics that need to communicate (phone,
      radio, traffic, etc).
  • It needs to be all-electric

    I'd like to see an electric plug-in that goes 80 miles on a charge at 65 MPH, includes great sound, a GPS, and Apple's usual great styling, all for less than $25K delivered. Trust me, that would be enough to bring buyers in droves. If Jobs doesn't do it, someone else will. Also, if Congress is going to bail out the US automakers, the deal should require them to make low-cost electric cars and forbid the manufacture of SUVs. We've got to quit sending our nation's wealth to the Middle East in exchange for gasoline.
    • Lay off the talking points

      Gasoline generates wealth, it doesn't consume wealth. Energy is the lifeblood of industrial societies.

      Middle Eastern nations are awash in oil, and their countries are third-world crap-cans. Why? Because all they are getting is money. We are getting energy and turning it into wealth. The Middle East countries have mercantile economies.

      The real danger is that because energy is our lifeblood, letting someone who hates us stand on our jugular is asinine. The solution, of course, is change the source of the lifeblood.

      Which is all a fancy way of saying: Drill locally.
      • Wrong.

        The people who are making money from the oil are living very nicely in the Middle East. Dubai for one has some of the most luxurious places in the world.

        The problem is that the wealth is not properly distributed. Instead of letting the working class get a share, it is just given to the rich like a certain senator named John wanted to do...
        • Very wrong

          As I recall, it was that Senator named John that wanted to end our imports from the Middle East and keep the money and jobs here. Too bad he didn't win.