Local Motors is a US 3D Printing car manufacturer. The company was co-founded by John ”Jay” Rogers who is also its president. The company is seeking to revolutionize how cars are designed, made and sold. Jay, a graduate of Princeton University is no stranger to the car industry. His grandfather was the first Cummins Engine Distributor in America and also owned the renowned Indian Motorcycle Company.
His passion for cars, greatly influenced by his family’s line of work, was what inspired him to start Local Motors. The company is the first of its kind. Its car designs are created from an online of community of co-creators that work to develop efficient and practical vehicle designs.
Mr. Rogers holds an MBA from Harvard Business School (Baker Scholar) and is a graduate of Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. His career has seen him traverse the globe form serving in the US Marine Corps where he served for 6 years as Infantry Company Commander to a startup in China and as a Financial Analyst (CFA) at Ewing &Partners. He has also worked at McKinsey & Co.
The epiphany to print a light weight practical car came to him a few years back. John was invited by a colleague to visit his lab in Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Inside the lab was a giant 3D printer that was emitting plastic made molds. As soon as he saw that, a light bulb went lit up in his brain and he knew he was at the cusp of revolutionary car design and manufacture.
The company recently demonstrated how practical their 3D printed cars are at the Detroit Motor show. The concept car, dubbed Strati was printed right there on the floor. The car design was made through a co-creation community effort on the online community. The winning design was then manufacture into a working practical vehicle. The winning design came from Michele Anoè, for which he received a cash prize .The company, Local Motors seeks to create its vehicles in what it call Micro factories. Typically this entails a small factory with which is a few hundred miles form a major city. The factories allow for reduced transportation costs while speeding up delivery to the consumer.
Apart from the electric motor, all other parts are 3D printed and made from composite material. The final design of the 3D printer used in the factory floor was developed through a collaborative partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Local Motors business model allows them to go around restrictive US regulations that have made it nearly impossible for low volume car manufacturers to survive in the industry. This is because consumers participate in the construction of their vehicles thus putting them in the special category of vehicle manufacturing known as “kit cars”.
Reloaded Redacted – Swim and Sport was the final design that is set for production and sale to the market. It was a winning design created by Kevin Lo. The design shows the benefits of using DDM (Direct Digital Design) which allows one to create absolutely customizable designs. Kevin’s has the unique feature of having a customizable foundation which can support a lot of styles and technological options. The design which will debut in the first quarter of 2016 will feature two variations. The first design will be a neighborhood vehicle. These are typically low speed electric vehicles such as golf carts. But the company says it is working on a high speed design which is set to debut soon for use on highways.
The minifactories that the company are using cut down the cost of production significantly. In comparison, a full size factory requires almost a billion dollars to be operational. The minifactories utilize the economy of scale. They take advantage of co-creation and low cost tool manufacturing. As a result the company is able to deliver products to the market at great speeds while at the same time making great capital and time savings in the design stage.
The Future for Local Motors
The use of co-creation in car manufacturing is quite revolutionary. Mr. Rogers views the car designers as partners to his business and not simply as workers. The co-creation effort by Local Motors and “The forge” has helped to do away with the misconception that crowd labor has only the advantage of being skilled. It has helped to demonstrate that in fact it is provide an avenue to reach out to a wider pool of talent. This is talent that would have otherwise not been available to a small company like Local Motors.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.