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Turning the Automotive Development Process Upside Down

Turning the Automotive Development Process Upside Down
by Daniel Payne on 06-07-2015 at 2:00 pm

Most of us drive automobiles and have a vague idea that the development of our cars takes many years, millions of dollars, is a proprietary process and require huge factories to produce. A relatively new company called Local Motors founded in 2007 has started to turn the automotive development process upside down because they do things differently, like:

  • Have a community of over 30,000 designers online that collaborate
  • Complete product developments 5X faster
  • Use 100X less cost for development

Take a look at some of the cool ideas that have been brought to life by Local Motors with their collaboration process:

In the DAC pavilion on Wednesday, June 10th from 10:30AM to 11:00AM you will hear Corey Clothier talk about, “How Open Collaboration is Fostering the New Mobility Revolution“. We’ve all heard about how Google has a self-driving car project, however the folks at Local Motors are also entering that market, so stay tuned to hear about their developments in the near future.

Instead of using a large, centralized, traditional manufacturing factory the vision at Local Motors is to use local, micro factories, where they can produce a 3D printed car. Their current headquarters is in Phoenix, but soon you’ll see micro factories in Tennessee, Maryland, Detroit, Florida and Europe. If all goes to plan then in 10 years their will be 100 micro factories around the globe.

They have an electric vehicle that will be through all of the mandatory testing procedures in 2016, ready for sale in 2017. One intriguing aspect of a 3D printed car is that you can actually have your car recycled in a few years, then receive a new body style in return as an upgrade.

The general process at Local Motors is:


  • Design community submits new ideas
  • Community then votes to decide on the best ideas
  • Prototypes are made
  • Micro-manufacturing is done
  • Consumers can buy, then designers share in the revenue

    Here are a few more photos from transportation systems designed by this collaboration process:

    All of this collaboration vision from Local Motors reminds me of the book from Alvin Toffler called The Third Wave, where the concept of mass customization was introduced. Consumers could create their own personalized automobile in the color, length, weight and other features to suit their individual tastes, instead of having the factory limit them to a few makes, models and trim packages. Attend the DAC Pavilion session and see the future now.

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