Should the automakers be worried about an Apple car?

So Michael Grothaus posted a great piece showcasing the thoughts of the incumbents in the auto industry. He also made a great point about infrastructure. The range of opinions vary quite a bit from no concern to excitement. 

Grothaus starts with the more provocative comments starting with a retired exec from GM, Dan Akerson...I think you can see where this going.  To sum up, he was quoted saying:

"They’d better think carefully if they want to get into the hard-core manufacturing. We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that."

I'm sure he said some other more forward thinking things, but if we take this at face value as it's presented, then there are some obvious concerns. Apple is making their own blend of gold and patented it because it meets the requirements, but actually uses less gold. They have the world's most valuable brand, a cult following, and tons of cash.

More importantly, who says a car has to be made primarily of steel? 

What automakers should be worried about is autonomous cars in general and its effect on the industry. We're still years away, but it's years, not decades. 

How long will it take for consumers to adopt the product? 

Will consumers still want to own vehicles if they don't need to drive them?

Are their preferences and tastes going to change? Does that give more freedom to designers? 

Will the car become a mobile office or media center where consumers look to consume content and get things done while traveling?

With the number of traffic incidents dramatically plummeting with mass adoption, does the car need to be made of steel? How will this affect the insurance industry? 

These are just some of the questions running through my head and I imagine many execs from the auto industry. Disruption is coming, but when and how? 

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