Apple’s Vertically Integrated Scooter
About a year ago, I drew the sketch above into my notebook. It was the result of my fascination about Micromobility and its connection to autonomous cars. Both are already here and will be living in co-existence, but in this sketch I took the connection of the two literally.
A day ago, the story broke that the Apple-Hyundai-Kia-Canoo love triangle may be more than just about autonomous cars. Apparently, the companies are looking at eight different areas in transportation together. One of them could be scooters.
…discussing cooperation in “last mile” mobility, or transport to complete a final short distance to a destination after using another means of transportation.
This very much sounds like a Tim Cook quote I collected:
“We talk about the ‘last mile’ of the supply chain – the delivery person who actually brings your product to the door. If that were done with all electric vehicles, that would be a really fantastic thing. That’s going to happen.”
So, that’s going to happen.
And here’s the best look we get so far, from a corporate concept of Hyundai Motor Group they teased in 2017 and 2019:
Certainly the scooter isn’t very ergonomic (look at the thin piece of aluminium the model is standing on while riding) and the ideas for shoving it into the (largely unchanged) car are clumsy and premature. But the idea is good. It just needs Apple design and execution.
Back to the drawing
Those who know my sketches and Stefan’s renderings understand that we expect Apple Car to be a floating box, essentially creating a smart room on smart wheels. Typically, there are four wheels in a car, but what if there are two more from a scooter? Or what if there’s not only one scooter integrated, but four – one in each corner, so up to four people can hop out and take a detour?
The appeal is obvious: You take an Apple Car to the High Street but (luckily) it’s a pedestrian zone. You hop out and take the scooter to pick up your shopping. It’s not too heavy or boxy, that’s why you didn’t choose delivery. You scoot back, put the bag and yourself into Apple Car and go to the next place.
This scenario applies perfectly to medium-dense cities we can find in the US. What the High Street is in the UK, the mall is a similar mobility scenario in the States: You go there by car because it’s not around the corner, but inside it’s so big you really wish to have a scooter to not have to walk al those steps.
Now, the way the scooter needs to integrate into Apple Car would be a) to take it inside with you – not a good idea for many reasons: Takes away space, may fall over, isn’t needed there. Or b) it snaps to the outside in some semi-automatic way and sits there until needed, charging. This is obviously what Hyundai thought about in the design concept video above.
Never trust a scooter you can bend
However, the system they envision isn’t designed to encourage scooter use. Actually, the opposite. If I had to take the scooter out of a hidden hood somewhere on the car, pull it out, and take what seems at least five to six hand manoeuvres to get it up and ready, I’d stop after the first use. Consider how elders, children or just as basic as someone with a bad back or heavy backpack would not even try it.
So, the expectation must be that the scooter is vertically integrated into the Car’s exterior. This way it is always in shape, can be loaded and unloaded with a simple mechanic support like a crane, and automatically secured with a hardware switch. No one wants a metal scooter to bang around while driving.
My sketch from a year ago was just a very basic idea. Today, I think a scooter would be much better fitted in the edge corners of the Car. Here’s my updated sketch:
This sketch shows a couple of things:
- The circular couch (although it shouldn’t be a full circle, I sketched that a bit too fast; but more to that in another post)
- The vertically integrated scooters (of which I think there will be more than just one)
- From a product standpoint, this combo makes sense – and it also brings together the world of Micromobility and Autonomous Cars.
Let me know what you think!