A Boom(er) for Apple Electric Car?

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Image by Children’s Author/Illustrator Richard Scarry. And citing him: “Where is lowly worm?!”

Will the Baby Boomers allegiance to Apple products steer them to electric cars (EV) and will Apple remake transportation history? Apple made a “surprise” announcement that it is working on an electric vehicle that could be ready by 2019.  In that year the oldest of the Boomers will be 73 and the youngest will be 55.

The  2019 “Apple car” should appeal to people of all age groups, but the vehicle might resonate best with Boomers. The Boomers have been steady consumers of evolving Apple products….from computers, to music players, to apps to phones. Can Apple now get Boomers excited by electric cars?

BOOMERS, CARES..and cars

The Boomer generation is synonymous with cars and transportation. They are first generation to “drive to qualify,” trading drive time for a cheaper home mortgage and a larger house. The car-dependent suburbs have grown up around them. And, this is also the first generation to have two and sometimes three car households. Many of these households are filled with Apple products. Now they might add an Apple car or two. In  2019, that is.

OLD FLEETS, NEW NEEDS

One of the major reasons, noted in an earlier blog, is that the Boomers will need to replace their vehicle fleet. Although their current vehicles may be dependable and road-worthy, they do not incorporate advanced safety features. In-vehicle electronics are being added to monitor the road, and help (aging) drivers detect and prevent collisions with other cars and pedestrians. Today, upscale brands like Audi and Cadillac are incorporating new safety options, but by 2019, there will be more.

Boomers will insist on safer cars, particularly if it helps keeps them driving longer and lowers their insurance risk. In the process, they may discover aspects of the electric vehicle that are different, and superior, to gasoline fueled cars. First, a history lesson: At the beginning of the twentieth century, electric vehicles were more popular than gas powered ones, and were in demand  as city cars. The simplicity of the electric vehicle drivetrain was recognized. It was deemed that the car was more suitable for women because there were fewer moving parts, less repairs, and it was easier to start (in the days of the crank).  These are not bygone features. The reliability of the electric car- the fact that it has fewer parts and requires fewer visits to the mechanic – may appeal to retirees. Also, the silent whir of the engine may delight those seeking quieter times.

NO RAG ON RANGE

Currently, the range for an EV can vary from about 250 miles for the Tesla to just 75 miles for the Nissan Leaf. But, by 2019 there will be improvements and a more level playing field. Even so, range may not be the key issue for the Boomers. As people get older they drive less and cut back their trip-taking. In fact, the Boomer generation has already begun to cut back total miles driven although they log frequent, short trips.

It is hard to predict how Boomer households will assimilate electric vehicles, as the technology will bring unintended changes. An analogy can be made to the phone, also made by Apple. Today, households employ smartphones quite differently than they did  older, corded telephones. Each member of the household seems to have their own phone, loaded with apps, used idiosyncratically. The electric car will also bring untold change.  Home garages might be redesigned so that solar power on the roof augments the plug in the wall. Or, charging could take place off-site and users will prefer to “swap out”  batteries.  In either scenario, the vehicle charging will interface with a smart phone, a watch, or a tablet…and the energy system (think storage) will interface with load balancing throughout the household.

PENULTIMATE?

The first cars that Baby Boomers owned were mechanical- many moving parts powered by lead based fuels. Their last, or penultimate car, will be powered by electronics and controlled by intelligent software. These electric cars may reinvent  mobility for all age groups. It is a fitting close for Boomers, a generation that loved their cars so much that they indelibly transformed the transportation infrastructure.