The economic crisis has caused huge changes in the traditional automotive industry. These changes were happening slowly before, but recent events have accelerated this. The dinosaurs of GM, Chrysler, etc are dying or are in trouble- and quite rightly thanks to the extremely slow pace of innovation within the established industry. So far in the 21st century we’ve seen the birth of many new car companies- such as Tesla, Fisker, and Mindset but now you can add this amazing start-up to the list – Local Motors.
Local Motors is even further removed from the traditional set-up of a car manufacturer- they are essentially open source. This is a term and practice borrowed from software development, the most obvious example being Windows vs the Linux operating system, or Internet Explorer compared to Firefox. The latter of each- for example Firefox- have been created by the user community- openly and without restrictions on licensing, copyright etc. People literally contribute in their spare time, at home. We can also see the power of this method in websites such as Wikipedia- also completely user generated. Local Motors have applied this amazingly powerful (and very cheap!) methodology to creating vehicles! When I first read about this- basically allowing anyone online to design a car, I expected something awful to come from this but the result is fantastic. The quality of the design work- and particularly the renderings etc. is fantastic. The premise is clearly explained with these words taken from the Local Motors website:
This is how it works:
- Vote for the designs you want. If you are a designer, you can upload your own. Either way, you help choose which designs are developed and built by the Local Motors community. Vote for competition designs, Checkup critiques, or portfolio designs.
- Open Development, sort of like open source. Once there is enough support for any single design, Local Motors will develop it openly. That means that you not only choose which designs you want to drive, you get to help develop them – every step of the way.
- Choose the Locale During the development process, help choose where the design should be made available. Local Motors is not a big car company, we are Local. The community chooses car designs with local regions in mind; where will this design fit best? You tell us. We make it happen.
- Build your Local Motors vehicle Then, once the design and engineering is fully developed you can go to the Local Motors Micro-Factory and build your own – with our help, of course.See the “Buy” page for purchase and Build Experience details.
- Drive your Local Motors car, the one you helped design and build, home.
- Repeat as desired.
Frankly- inspiring stuff, and it makes me want to order one. The community has a high quality of design ability, and is mostly made up of car design students. Overall an exciting project and in my opinion this is quite possibly the very bright future for the personal transportation industry- cars designed by us (“us” being the actual consumers!), specifially for us- even to the extent of being designed especially for our own local environment/terrain and culture. What could be better?!