Episode: 450 |
Sven Beiker:
The Future of Mobility:



Sven Beiker

The Future of Mobility

Show Notes

Sven Beiker has a PhD. in Mechanical Engineering and Vehicle Dynamics; he is a technology expert in the field of automotive and high-tech topics with a strong interest in consumer products with a holistic view regarding the impact on the environment, society, business, and policy. His special focus is in autonomous, connected, electric, shared vehicles, which is what we explore in this episode. You can learn more about ACES at www.siliconvalleymobility.com, or reach out to Sven on LinkedIn.


Key points include:

12:47: The issue of charging electric vehicles

18:33: Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

23:52: Shared mobility

26:54: Micro mobility

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:


  1. Sven Beiker


Will Bachman 00:01

Hello and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman and I’m here today with my friend and Umbrex members, Vin biker who runs Silicon Valley mobility. Sven, welcome to the show.


Sven Beiker 00:16

Hey, well, thanks for having me.


Will Bachman 00:18

So I am interested to hear all about mobility. And I think that you were sharing with me before we started this acronym aces. Why don’t we start there? What is aces stand for? And tell me a little about the range of your of your practice?


Sven Beiker 00:33

Sounds good? Absolutely. So it’s aces, some call it case, but it’s like tomato tomahto. So aces, it’s a CES, it stands for autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility. So basically autonomous, it’s like vehicles are increasingly driving themselves and don’t need human oversight anymore. At some point, that’s a C is connected that is like vehicles are connected to one another, maybe to a central infrastructure. Something like you see an air traffic control that aircraft communicating with one another to avoid collisions of like this, get this into automobiles, electric vehicles, that that’s obvious. Everybody knows about it. But it’s quite a spectrum, actually, from hybrid vehicles through battery electric all the way to hydrogen fuel cell. And then sharing. I mean, how much time do you have, it’s right, Shay, ride hailing, and ride sharing, car sharing, micro mobility, micro transit, East scooters, e bicycles, what have you. And so what I do in this space of aces is really to figure out deployment scenarios, revenue sizing, and some technical due diligence every once in a while that I do. So basically figuring out what’s real about this whole thing.


Will Bachman 01:58

And you’ve really done a fantastic job of defining your niche. So a lot of consultants, some consultants will be kind of generalists. I work cross this industry and pharma and financial services, I do a bit of consumer, but you’re like super focused, and that’s allowed you to, you know, build a reputation and get known in that whole sector. I’m curious to hear about what’s going on in this. And I also want to hear about some of your work, but the Don’t tell me love hearing bottom line question is, I’m super excited to someday get an autonomous vehicle and be able to hop in and say, Take me, you know, to Central Pennsylvania where we have our farm and then just be able to take a nap or read a book or, or, or you did not have to drive. So, right. And I live on the East Coast, and I hear about this stuff, you know, Arizona, California, they always hear like trials are underway, or there was no cars in the road. But when am I going to be able to get a car that can drive itself? Well, it’s


Sven Beiker 02:58

good. Well, definitely happy to well at least try to answer that one. But before I go there, well don’t call Detroit. Wei Mo, Tesla, Uber in Nish. It’s much, much more than just in the niche that we’re doing our work and but it’s definitely very focused what I’m doing. So that’s correct. Now, when will you be able to basically get in a car in, let’s say, Manhattan, and push a button and it takes you to rural Pennsylvania to a cottage or something like that? Well, as we say, door to door, that will take a long time, and a long time, we would measure in decades. So plural, not definitely not just 10 years, it’s going to take more, but maybe the major thoroughfares and toll roads where you can actually implement some infrastructure that helps to be able to see the road and to manage just automobile traffic a little bit more similar to what I said earlier about aircraft traffic. And if you have that infrastructure on toll roads, maybe then it can happen actually, within the next decade, that maybe 95% of the distance, the vehicle really drives itself. And so that’s more near term actually. So definitely a good time to get excited about it, but not overly excited. It will still take a little bit.


Will Bachman 04:29

Okay, yeah, so about 230 miles of the 250 mile drive is on Route 80 i 80. And also, what’s the current state of self driving vehicles so you hear about maybe some cars have some self driving aspects of the driver help still has to be in the seat kind of ready to take over but where what what’s the current state of self driving,


Sven Beiker 04:58

right. So At this point, it might be helpful to point to the levels of automation as defined by SAE International. SAE international is the industry association of engineers in automotive and aerospace industries. And full disclosure, I also work with SAE International. So I might be a little bit biased, but they are levels of automation definition is broadly used in the industry, not everybody likes it, but it’s broadly used. And it basically goes from a very basic vehicle, that would be level zero to level one, which is that your vehicle maybe just keeps the distance from the car in front of you, or maybe keeps your vehicle in the lane that you don’t really run offline into the ditch or something like this. Level two would be those two combined, but the human, the driver, you still need to monitor at all times. And this is how far we’ve gotten. They as I’m sure the listeners here are following to some extent the discussion, there’s a lot of discussion about Tesla autopilot, which technically is a level two system, which means it keeps the distance to the car in front of you keeps you very, very nicely in the lane even makes lane changes can actually stop at stop signs and all of these things. But the driver still has to monitor at all times, which actually says on the Tesla website, someone wants to look it up. And this is how far we’ve gotten. And then level three is a very particular animal, happy to talk about it maybe later. But four and five would be that there’s no human bias. So even if something goes wrong, that the V can can deal with it, at the very least just come to a stop, and four would be just on it. And five would be more or less door to door. And even if you change your mind and say, Pennsylvania, that’s fine. Let me just go and visit sweyn. Let’s just drive a little bit further to California. And you just changed your mind. So everywhere would be level five. Now, what we just said level four ish can be maybe within the next decade level five way out there. Right now we are level two, which means the vehicle technically drives itself, but it has to be with human oversight.


Will Bachman 07:29

Okay. Interesting. Talk to me a bit about the kind of connected piece like what what’s going on there? What’s the state of the state on that?


Sven Beiker 07:41

Yeah. So what’s going on now, it’s actually quite quite interesting. But it will say a little bit depressing to look at the history because much of this started almost 25 years ago when the Department of Transportation and the United States I think was 1996 actually so decade five or 25 years. They basically said Department of Transportation Hey, we need to bring down traffic accidents and we need to improve efficiency of traffic. So let’s connect vehicles and make sure that they share their location and their speed and heading and all of this and we can avoid collisions and they started by reserving a certain communication spectrum and to figure out okay, how do you communicate speed and location from a GM vehicle to a Chrysler vehicle to Yoda to a Honda, BMW, Mercedes what have you and that standardization is incredibly tough and more or less by the time they figured that out. Technology has had progressed so much that you can do much of this without a D o t system but with let’s say 4g or certainly 5g cell phone communication. So that we are right now seeing some manufacturers just connecting the car to the phone. And at least you can share these this sort of information between the same brand but it’s a little bit of a wild west almost line Yeah, but then GM vehicle cannot really talk to a Toyota about Okay, fine. There’s like 15% market share of GM good enough to get started. So that’s one piece. The other piece is software over the air updates. So same as your your smartphone or your laptop will that you happen to get an update like once a month or whatever. Also for automobiles, so they get a software update. Tesla is the absolute pioneer in that field. They’ve been doing this for three if not five years, the traditional automakers are catching up. And that’s also part of connectivity because it’s like a wireless communication link that basically gets the latest software. Update into the vehicle. And then there’s basically anything in between, which probably some of our listeners have in their vehicles might want to have in their vehicles that map updates for navigation. That’s Spotify or, or something like this Pandora you want to listen to in your car. That’s, obviously Google Maps and points of interest search, all with an internet connection. So basically, the car becoming part of the internet, if you will.


Will Bachman 10:32

Yeah, I mean, I suppose that’s great. I have seen a few articles about cars being hacked. So that’s, that’s a concern as well, right? Someone might take control of your vehicle, or


Sven Beiker 10:43

especially if your car says driving, and you and that’s exactly where trust comes in. And I think, well, you and I, we discussed this some time back. Why mobility is such an important term to me, as opposed to just automotive or just transportation. So mobility is really something like there’s a lot of technical aspects to it, but but also societal, psychological and emotional aspects. And trust comes in and the moment you know, or at least you start thinking about it. Oh, my car’s connected to the internet. What about adversarial behavior of malicious actors? If I want to see left in the cargos? Right, is that possible? Well, technically, it is possible. And the automotive industry takes this very, very seriously. But we all know, can you really be one step ahead of these malicious actors that don’t do anything else and figuring out malicious things? That stuff, but I also want to caution, planes are connected, traffic lights are connected, nuclear power plants are connected, we are living in a totally connected world. Sure, automobiles are next, and might be closer to our own best and heart and health. But it’s a big topic. For now, we seem to have a pretty good understanding what needs to be done. There are hiccups in them. But it’s a it’s a real topic. So


Will Bachman 12:20

on terms of electric vehicles, tell me a bit about what’s going on, particularly in terms of the whole charging infrastructure. What, what some of the things that have to get in place and or charging or charging stations going to be, you know, looks brand specific, or is there a industry standard and who’s paying to roll it out and our gas stations are going to go extinct? Like work to me would tell me a little bit about what’s going on with charging? Yeah,


Sven Beiker 12:47

absolutely. And that’s another important point, to really see why mobility matters so much beyond just automotive, because to build this ecosystem, quite frankly, that you can actually have a satisfying, hopefully, delightful experience driving an electric car, even more than what you know, or used to know from a gasoline or diesel for that matter, our vehicle. That means charging is really important. And it is just such that batteries, at least, let’s say for the first 10 years of mass market, electric vehicles, batteries were relatively small, except Tesla Tesla had from the beginning pretty big batteries that you get 300 miles out of it. But a Nissan LEAF, for instance, had only 100 mile range. And then it needed to recharge again. And that’s a technical specification. Again, this is where psychology comes in. Quite a few people actually get nervous when the gasoline tank goes below half full, right, which is when you would still have 150 miles left, but people might freak out. So translate this to an electric vehicle, it only gets you 100 miles. So charging is really important for one, and that it’s available, which means you know that a gas station is more or less than every little town, or every little neighborhood basically, but a charging station for one day, actually not that many there I think 130,000 gas stations in the country. And let’s say every gas station has average six to eight pumps. So it gives you quite an opportunity for fueling up. But these charging stations there were definitely not that many in the beginning. You also didn’t see them that much. Because you see a shell or Chevron or golf or what have you gas station like Oh, that’s a gas station, I’m covered. These charging stations are much smaller and not so easy to see. So people freak out, like why should I charge? Where should I charge? Granted? apps help if you have your app that tells you where all the charging stations are. But then exactly as you say, Well what about compatibility Is my vehicle compatible with that charging standard, which is again, were pretty good standardization work has been done that basically all vehicles use the same plug except Tesla, because Tesla, let me talk about them in a minute. It’s a great story in itself. But everybody else agreed on Okay, that’s the plug, at least, technically, they should connect. But when you then actually get into one of these electric vehicles, and you drive up to a charging station, oh, you’re not registered for this network, oh, your credit card cannot be read or something like that. It’s very similar to cell phone technology. You might be with at&t, and you cannot use sprint, something like that. We actually talk about roaming for electric vehicle charging that you can actually use other networks. So which is quite interesting that quite a bit. Some of this thinking from cell phone communication now is as a business model put into electric vehicle charging. And that might include Tesla. So Tesla really took a great position. What to say about eight years ago, 2013 sounds about right. So just round around, right around the time when Tesla Model S launched. The Tesla also said, Okay, we’re going to bring out fast charging, which they called Super charger. And they put it very strategically and very well done, actually, to the major routes where people will travel San Francisco, Los Angeles, certainly one i’m sure New York, DC is probably one up to Boston, the corridors and whatnot. And, but proprietary only for Tesla vehicles, but then in the beginning free of charge, literally and figuratively. Didn’t need to pay for it. But but that actually helped a lot because people then again, trust that this vehicle can swing it for them. Because Ilan, Elon Musk in took care of us and pull the supercharger every whatever, 80 miles. So so that works out now pretty well, it’s still a question, how long does it take to charge? Because if you’re used to filling up your gasoline tank takes five minute Max, and getting an extra 100 miles out of even fast charging, probably at least 15 minutes. And that’s where to your last point well, what about gas stations in the future? I mean, gas stations make quite some revenue, certainly profit by the sales of candy bar cigarettes in some states liquor, maybe charcoal for the barbecue, and all of these like mini Mart sort of things. So that’s what we need to figure out if that applies to electric vehicle charging stations as well. Right now we see more connection with coffee shop or something like this, because you stay there 1530 minutes. But again, it’s an ecosystem. It’s pretty exciting to see all of this coming together.


Will Bachman 18:10

So what’s your thoughts around what has to happen with the charging infrastructure? And what sort of players are doing this or utilities getting involved in this like electric utilities? Or is it like the gas station owners are saying, well, we need to get with the times and put some charging stations in or it’s just, you know,


Sven Beiker 18:33

yeah. So I don’t see too much from the gas station owners they the oil companies are definitely looking at this field quite carefully. I’m not sure to what extent in the US but BP british petroleum and shell and the UK both of them actually invested quite heavily into electric vehicle charging infrastructure, which can be debated why they are doing this because gasoline and diesel will be around for some time. But these companies are pretty well versed obviously, in bringing out big infrastructure and dealing with energy. So to some extent, but I mean mentioned Tesla that they basically bootstrap their own system. Then there are companies here started a startup companies like charge point needs to be mentioned Evie go needs to be mentioned. They basically said, Okay, we have an innovative business model, we are not operating the charge points. And charge point is even a company name, but we install those chargers. And we enable the owners who buy them these chargers we enable them by facilitating the whole financial transaction by making sure with the local utility that they Get enough electricity and all of that. So there’s a whole ecosystem of companies evolving around this. And then yeah, okay, I said this Tesla, and then there’s also electrify America, electric pie America is an interesting thing, which came out of the settlement that Volkswagen had out of the diesel scandal that maybe some of our listeners remember that was five years ago, I think, big problem, fraud, fraudulent activity, actually, from that cooperation around diesel emissions and things like this. And they had a settlement, I think, for $5 billion with the Department of Justice. And basically it was said, okay, you need to invest $5 billion into sustainable slash electrical, transportation. And they said, Okay, we’re going to build this charging network, which is electrify America, I think it’s then becoming the second largest. So another player, and then it’s, to some extent, look, I mean, shopping malls, and we could discuss for the rest of the show shopping malls have a future, but definitely places of commerce of any kind. Definitely. workplaces, and we can discuss what the workplace of the future is going to look like. But where people go, it does become something if you have charging opportunity there people actually come so that it becomes an incentive. Yeah, come to my restaurant and you get 30 minutes of each dodging. Okay, I go there, whereas with the other, I don’t even know if I can get back with what my battery’s already low. So becomes a pretty interesting proposition.


Will Bachman 21:45

And it’s also something that you don’t need to have big, you know, gas tanks underground. So you don’t necessarily need a whole gas station. It could be even like parking spots. Exactly. Yeah. On the street, I think I’ve seen in some cities parking spots with charging.


Sven Beiker 22:00

That’s That’s exactly right. Well, so the statistics that I have a couple of years old now, but I think they mostly hold true, definitely directionally, that 80% 80% of the charging happens at home, which is very slow charging, it’s called level two, charging whatever, we could go into details. But it’s not as fast charging, which is the same what you do with your smartphone, you plug it in, when you go to bed, and in the morning, it’s fully charged. And that’s what 80% of the charging for electric vehicles is as well. But their psychology kicks in again. And we like to fancy all these ideas like what well Backman just said, I want to go to roll Pennsylvania, right? I mean, how often do you really do that. And I think we do it once a quarter something like this Well, but this is what you pick a car for. And therefore you think, Oh, well, I have enough charge. Even if most of the charging happens at home, you want to know that on your road to roll Pennsylvania that’s charging opportunity. And that’s what we need to figure out therefore. And where you need to talk then to local utilities where you might need to talk to maybe gas stations, they say lay at the major interstates come here and there’s there’s an additional electrical charging. It is it is happening, but it’s a little bit chicken egg problem. So if there are not enough electric vehicles, you cannot make much money actually with charging. So why would you invest in that and the other way around?


Will Bachman 23:36

Talking about the shared aspect of mobility. And that I imagine may extend beyond just automobiles to also scooters and bikes or other types of mobility. What are some of the things that are going on there?


Sven Beiker 23:52

Yeah, let’s see. So I actually did some research because I am working on my book and happy to do another podcast at some point when the book is finally out, knock on wood. But the research that I did actually cost sharing, car sharing goes back to the 1950s. So more than 60 years now 70 years, almost, and that was in Switzerland. And it was some sort of neighborhood community thing where they said oh, this is like modern living and not every household needs a car we can share and all of this. So the idea is not new. But all of this basically got a huge boost through smartphones and apps that you didn’t need to call anyone like hey, I need a vehicle on Wednesday afternoon. Oh, tough luck already all booked up too bad. But if you see this on your on your smartphone app, and I think many of us probably played around with it, whether that’s car sharing. Certainly all of us have used Uber and Lyft. But also scooters and bicycles. If you see it on your smartphone app. It’s pretty pretty And experience and the spectrum as you said goes from cars to bicycles to scooters to even like motor scooters like like Vesper kind of things that are shareable but guess what, even two trucks even in trucking what why do some work and commercial vehicles where it’s like well trucks are not used all the time can they not be utilized better and shared So in the end, it becomes something to match the demand and maximize utilization. And the spectrum we usually look at if we’re not talking about commercial vehicles and trucks at the moment it’s really car sharing its ride hailing ride sharing which little bit of a difference and then what’s called micro mobility which is e scooters and bikes and there might be micro transit that you can throw in but it’s not really going that strong so it’s quite a spectrum


Will Bachman 26:00

seems in the micro mobility different cities have taken different directions and I know when I’ve been out on the some of the West Coast cities there’s you know all these i don’t know i forget if it was the line bikes or the the the red ones, it’s good and it gets a job. But and whereas in New York City you don’t see all those around but city bikes are amazing I just I’m so I’m so in love with city bikes, especially since they came to our neighborhood. And so those are really been a game changer for me, I just being able to get a city bike out, it’s very different than even just better than better than owning your own bike. Because you can, you know, go you can go into the city and then get a bike and ride home or ride someplace. You don’t have to. You don’t have to park it, have it stolen etc.


Sven Beiker 26:53



Will Bachman 26:54

Um, what what do you what are some of the things happening around just that micro mobility that you see like different experiments happening? What what what do you see being successful? What things have tried that didn’t work out? so well? Yeah.


Sven Beiker 27:07

Well, for one, the big question in this, but but also in automobile based chat mobility, so car sharing, and ride hailing. And then the big thing is profitability. To my knowledge, there’s not a single service that’s profitable overall. And I’ve made this statement, often in front of people who run cost sharing operations at large companies, or scooter sharing or something like this. And they say, we are profitable in some markets, but not as a whole. So they are still all subsidized. And that’s probably reflective of what you said, well, then it’s different in different cities, because for one, regulation is different. I think the city of San Francisco allowed two or three different companies for scooter sharing, because they saw that the scooters, were just cluttering the sidewalks because, yeah, it’s nice that well says it’s very convenient. And you don’t need to look for parking, you just drop it off. And it’s done what it looks like. It’s just got dropped off and the middle of the sidewalk and I tripped over it in the middle of the night. How great is that? So that is pretty interesting to see. And again, this is where I just find it goes so much beyond the actual vehicle, even if the actual vehicle is just a scooter. Like how do we handle all of this. So So that’s another important factor on distinction and scooter and even more than bike sharing is whether it’s station based, which basically means you bring back the bicycle to this to a station and into a dock. And then it locks at this dock. Or if you can drop it off within the perimeter of a city. And as long as you are in whatever like 10 mile perimeter of a city, you’re good to drop it off wherever you want, which is easier obviously for the user to just drop it off. But it might be tougher for the user to know whether scooter or and bicyclist and maybe some of our listeners have also seen those pictures of huge numbers of shared bicycles just being crushed. So it has become some sort of a throw away article, or throw away product where we say yeah, we’ve used these bikes half a year, but now the tires are flat and a few spokes are broken and the brakes don’t work that well anymore, throw it away get a new one, or didn’t quite work out in this city. So rather than transporting 500 bicycles to another city, let’s just throw them away and get some new ones. So for one, again, problem liability needs to be figured out, but also how long last is scooters and bicycles? And also is it actually a sustainable mobility overall, because if it’s a throwaway mentality, that doesn’t work too well. And just one more point well, scooter versus bicycle that’s debated a lot. Obviously, you can go typically further with a bicycle. But so my last name is biker. Pretty literal. I like cycling. So I’m not a scooter person. I like cycling. And a bicycle has more risk of failure can have flat tires, scooter does not grant it their bicycles that don’t have pneumatic tires, they just have rubber stuff, something that cannot go flat. Okay, fine. But a bicycle has spokes, as these brake levers and cables that can fail. And so as scooters just more ruggedized, if you will. And also scooters easier to get on and off versus a bicycle if people are not that used to cycling anymore, because the high school days are like 2030 years in the past, oh, my God on a bicycle. I don’t know, can I still do it? a scooter might be easier, which is why I say even if I personally prefer cycling, scooters might make it. We’ll see.


Will Bachman 31:29

Yeah. Talk to me about the kind of ecosystem of companies that are playing at least in one of these areas. What are what are some of the major companies that we should know? And you can talk about these are, you know, these or if there’s some startups that we should know about, or the larger players go across these categories? Yeah, no, absolutely. Let’s



go across these categories and start with a an asis, like autonomous driving. I mean, there’s there’s way Mo, which is autonomous driving or self driving group out of Google’s slash alphabet. They’ve been around tail since 2009. So 12 years, Google has been working on self driving cars say many, many agree that they might be really the front runner, and they have operations in Phoenix, Arizona, Austin, San Francisco, Mountain View and whatnot. So there’s, there’s Google waymo, then cruise cruise got acquired by General Motors in 2016, or something like that. unicorn and all of that big, I think they have 1500 people working on this. Then it’s GM Cruze that Ford Argo, Argo AI, which actually now is Ford and Volkswagen collaborating and supporting our goal, which is about the same size of crews. Also consider the front runner. Then there’s Aurora. Aurora is very smart people that have backgrounds from way mo Tesla and Uber founded that company, I think four years ago, unicorn, they’re gonna go, I think spec merger, I don’t think traditional IPO still before the end of the year. And, and then there’s quite a few of these autonomous trucks. There’s two simple dis kodiaq plus AI. Most of them basically have at least a Silicon Valley presence. Many actually were founded in Silicon Valley. And then they see self driving delivery vehicles or delivery robots new role, and you are all new role needs to be mentioned, you delve certainly needs to be mentioned. So these sorts of companies, so that’s for autonomous and then for connected. It’s an interesting mix. I mean, there are some really specialized companies that do a lot in cybersecurity, as you said, they do a lot in software over the updates. lesser known companies, there’s this red band which got acquired by Harman which got acquired by Samsung, but also the cell phone company like at&t, Verizon sprint, T Mobile, they are pretty active in this space. And then companies that do a lot tell telemonitoring of vehicles telematics and things like this. There was on the was an omni something which got acquired by Verizon Verizon is very, very active in that space. Well, electric vehicles, everybody knows Tesla. We did see last year we’re still carrying over a little bit into this year. Quite a few companies going spec merger going public in that way there’s


Sven Beiker 35:03

lucid motors, lucid motors in Silicon Valley could be maybe the closest to what the next Tesla could be. And lucid then there’s Fisker down in LA there’s Lordstown motors. And then there’s rivian rivian got huge investment was huge, half a billion, which is big, but not huge in our space. Actually, half a billion investment from Amazon. Same amount from Ford. So there’s rivian they are starting production now actually, like electric vehicle pickup truck and Amazon delivery vehicle. And a few electric truck companies. Nicola, somewhat in famous because they IPO got a lot of scrutiny, I think for a number of good reasons. Because they promised things to investors that were a little bit hard to justify, but that’s hydrogen powered, long haul trucks. So very interesting thing as well. So that about electric and shared, I mean, basically household names, obviously, Uber and Lyft, and then all the scooter and bicycle companies, but also the traditional automotive manufacturers are definitely getting a lot into shared mobility. So GM had their Maven program, which they discontinued the cause could make it profitable. Ford had tried a lot of things including chariot micro transit, Ford had bicycle sharing in San Francisco, which they sold to lift I believe, BMW, Mercedes had their shared vehicle programs, which they then merge because they couldn’t really get to beyond critical mass. So Well, there are a lot of companies how much more time do you have?


Will Bachman 36:58

That’s a big list. Yes, it seems like the and I’m not reading



that list. Just what comes to my mind if I prepared a list and it gets even long,


Will Bachman 37:07

it’d be a long, long discussion. It seems that with the shared cars where it seems that those may be at least my own personal experience in New York City is that there? I saw there was like a year or two ago there was all these cars in my neighborhood I think they were like to go maybe and to go probably a car to go and you and there was you know an app you could open them up and get in it seems they’ve all disappeared like it just that you know Yeah. It’s people either want to just own their own car. Or if they want to get somewhere they just get an Uber or lift to where they’re going and there’s not as much demand for know I want to drive it myself and I want to rent the car for two hours. There’s less need for that in at least in New York, you have to go pocket. So Exactly. Unless you’re going Oh,


Sven Beiker 37:56

yeah, it’s it’s it’s a tough business well, and then the car to go that. That’s Mercedes timelog timeline. And they did this it actually merged at least in Europe. It merged with BMW strives now service, but basically tells us getting to profitability is just so tough. And the problem is to really handle supply and demand. And it’s again, a catch 22 or chicken egg problem. If there’s not too much demand, why would you deploy all these vehicles that are just sitting in the streets? And if there are not enough vehicles sitting in the streets? Why would I sign up for the service? And even more, why would I get rid of my own vehicle, if they are not enough of the shared vehicles. And it certainly is a lot of investment. Like, you need to buy all these vehicles, or you need to make these vehicles and finance them at least, and put them in the streets. Whereas Uber and Lyft obviously has a very different business model, the two sided marketplace Well, basically Uber and Lyft for the expenses onto the drivers and say, well, we help you maybe with financing and vehicle but we are not going to buy the vehicle. So the capital investment is very different for cost sharing than it is for writing, hailing. So Zipcar versus Uber, for instance. And that’s why Zipcar had a problem scaling up and car to go even more, but Uber and Lyft could scale up just like hell. And you knew like within three minutes, the vehicle shows up. And that’s why car sharing. I don’t know if S has a great future. Honestly, it might go back to what it originally was in the 1950s in Switzerland. There’s your condo complex, where you Live and maybe they have, I don’t know, a 50 v code for 200 families or something like this, which which might work, because it’s one thing about 30% utilization, that’s what people tell me from car sharing, you want to go to 30% utilization to basically be profitable. If you get much beyond that, it basically means that nothing can go wrong. So not an empty tank, not a broken car. Nobody can be late, because that all causes friction. So you’ve got to aim for 30%. But to have a business run was relatively high capital investment to run it on 30% utilization. Good luck. Well, I’m not sure if I recommend this to you.


Will Bachman 40:49

Yeah. I’m sure that there. I mean, there must be businesses out there doing the following, but at least as a consumer, I haven’t really become aware of them have. I haven’t really seen a successful Airbnb for cars where, if I’m not driving today, that you can just go and like use an app to open my car and drive it around and pay me like you could my my house? No, I haven’t, I haven’t seen an


Sven Beiker 41:16

interesting Well, let me tell you something that is to row and get around, get around and to roll and to competitors. And there were a few others, but I think to row and get around are the only ones that are still around at this point, which is exactly that it’s peer to peer car sharing. So the typical number that we use is that privately owned automobile, a privately owned automobile is parked, not used 94% of the time, 94% of the time, you’re not using it, it’s a dead and used asset. So you can certainly rent it out, it becomes an emotional value again, rarely do I want someone else to drive my car? I don’t know. But some people are totally fine with it. And but the fact that you don’t know it, I think it’s just telling that these services have a just a hard time to get the visibility that they might deserve. Because these vehicles are there. If you just look in any neighborhood Street, all these cars apart, we can use them better than this. But it’s tough.


Will Bachman 42:30

Yeah. How do you stay current on what’s going on in this industry where there’s so much dynamism? Do you follow blogs or newsletters? Or is it just a lot of one on one conversations? Or going to conferences? Or industry journals? Or some of the above? Like, how do you stay up to date?


Sven Beiker 42:50

Yeah, it’s it’s actually all of the above? Well, so I actually do read newsletters, and I have my google news alerts. That actually comes in every Thursday afternoon. So we’ll come in today again, and I have them set up on gas, what autonomous, connected, electric and share. So what’s going on there. So I read those things. I discuss a lot with people in my network. And on one hand, if everybody asked the same question, then that’s probably a topic that I might look at. And maybe I publish something, and engage in a community conversation again, certainly one learns from the clients. And that’s really important to me as an independent consultant, who positions himself in this niche, as you said, as an expert. So I have to get insights from the real world. And I will not say this company is doing this, but to see what is possible. And sometimes graciously, client might get me behind the curtain and want to get my opinion on something. And they will get my opinion, I will not tell anybody anything secret, obviously. But so I do rely on these engagements and to see what’s going on. And hey, also my my class at Stanford that I lecture for a lecture at the business school at Stanford, I’m in charge of inviting the guest lectures. So I can be somewhat selfish and inviting someone where I also can learn something. And I learn a lot from student questions. And in fact, we’re also from your questions. And then I’m like, Huh, that question I hadn’t really thought about so let me read something up, which is anything from Wikipedia to real technical papers and specifications? Like I should know this I, I do spend some time I want to say, well, it might be something between 10 15% of my time to actually educate, educate myself, because otherwise you cannot sustain yourself as an expert on the field.


Will Bachman 44:58

Any blog podcasts newsletters websites that you that you’d want to mention as useful sources that you follow. Um, yeah, they


Sven Beiker 45:09

actually are like, like three or so that I typically mentioned your clients to get smart. Let’s see if I can remember them. There’s from TechCrunch TechCrunch has a pretty good newsletter. I think it’s called this station. This station from TechCrunch. That is, that is definitely good one. It’s from Kristin karasek TechCrunch the station. Then there’s okay full disclosure buddy of mine. It’s Riley. Brandon Riley. Brandon run says VC Fund, which is trucks BC, doesn’t have to do anything with trucks and trucking. I don’t know how he came up with that name. He could never really explain it to me. But it’s future of transportation. fo t newsletter from Riley, Brandon attracts VC. And guess what? It’s maybe more the traditional industry but the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan center for Automotive Research, run by Carla below it in out of Ann Arbor on a pretty good newsletter. And then maybe Bloomberg, Bloomberg, New Energy Finance, I think the thing is called hyper drive or something like that. That is one that I’m getting every day and I actually read it and I learned something from it was quite a bit. Fantastic. And of course there’s this fan bikers LinkedIn and his blog on his website, but my mind is maybe more a little bit here and there. The other ones are really regular newsletters, great source of information. Sorry, you were saying no


Will Bachman 46:49

on that topic. For listeners that want to follow up and find out more about your work and reach out. Where would you point them online.


Sven Beiker 46:58

It’s really LinkedIn. So the freshest the newest I have is on LinkedIn, I put it down on my blog on my website, which is Silicon Valley mobility.com, Silicon Valley mobility.com. I put it down on my blog as well, but it’s really mostly on LinkedIn, which works very well for me. So I get great followership and also conversations going through LinkedIn, people leave a comment, I really make an effort answering those comments. So it’s LinkedIn, mostly


Will Bachman 47:27

fantastical spin. fascinating to hear about what’s going on in your space. Thanks so much for joining today.



It was good. Thanks for having me. Well, absolutely.

Related Episodes


JJ Kasper, Venture Capitalist

JJ Kasper, Venture Capitalist


Nicolai Chen Nielsen, Advisor, Author, & Entrepreneur

Nicolai Chen Nielsen, Advisor, Author, & Entrepreneur


Tom Critchlow, Writer and Strategy Consultant

Tom Critchlow


Author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

Nick Gray