Local Motors: The Future of Automaking

Local Motors Rally Fighter

Whether you want a $700 remote-control car, a $1,900 skateboard or a $99,900 car, Local Motors has you covered.

The Phoenix company is famous for its open-source design strategy and series of micro factories, which allow for the company’s signature product, the Rally Fighter, to be designed, and built, by the same people who buy it.

The Local Motors website says the Rally Fighter:

Looks like a race car, rides like a luxury vehicle. A rugged tube chassis construction complemented with all the requisite creature comforts. This 50-state street legal off-road desert racer is at home on the open road, the daily commute, and on the most challenging desert terrains.

More on the Rally Fighter in a moment, but first, check this out:

printed car

What you see above is a printed car. This vehicle wasn’t built in a factory—it came from a 3D printer.

The New York Times said:

This irresistible attraction was a 3-D printed vehicle made by Local Motors, and interest at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens was intense. Bystanders crowded around, closely inspecting the car’s structure, which combines the body and chassis in a single unit and is made entirely from a composite, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, reinforced with carbon fiber. Commonly called A.B.S., it is the same thermoplastic used to make Lego bricks.

Printing production cars isn’t something that’s viable, but the technology can speed up the prototype process and potentially help automakers reduce the number of parts used in a car.

In addition to the Rally Fighter and the printed car, Local Motors also has its sights set on a genuine sports car.

sf-01_street_fighter

Through an online contest, the company has selected a design, called the SF-01 Street Fighter, to move forward into a research and development phase. That phase will begin the process of “transforming the beautiful renderings of the SF-01 into a beautiful vehicle built for road and track.”

Many of the components of Local Motors cars come from existing production cars. The Rally Fighter uses a Corvette engine mixed with bits and pieces from almost everything from the Honda Civic to the Mazda Miata.

Could the Local Motors strategy of crowd-sourced design and printed parts be the future of automaking?

-tgriffith

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