Crowd Sourced Cars?


It has worked for software and t-shirts, but could ‘crowdsourcing’ work for something as tangible as a motor car?

Massachusetts based enterprise Local Motors would certainly like us to think so.

In case you’ve never heard of it before crowdsourcing involves taking designs/ideas and expertise from an often very diverse, global community of designers, engineers and other creative individuals and then manufacturing to order.

At one level it is almost as ugly as the dictatorship of the masses, but at another level, it can seem as a true paradigm shift toward aesthetic and productive democracy.

Local motors’s vision is that there would be a network of regional micro-factories which would produce vehicles tailored for that region specific needs.

In this vision of the future Industry-standard mass production becomes outmoded and gives ways to intensely local products for local people.

Without getting too ‘League of Gentlemen‘ about it, this could perhaps lead to true regional diversity – and would surely represent a positive move away from the all-pervasive convergence of all things commercial.

Launched in March 2008 , Local Motors’ online community now has a membership of 4,000. How it works is that the company announced a design competition for a particular facet of a particular vehicle and then members of the community then submit their work to the community, which then discusses and votes on the designs.

Each stage of competition is regionally targeted, and when a winner is found, the design is developed and tweaked to articulate with existing designs.

The first production vehicle, the Rally Fighter (above) is already available:  production is limited to 2,000 units, and at time of writing around fifty had been sold.

The Fighter retails at around price of around USD 50,000 and the punters are invited to help build their own vehicle over two weekends.

It may be a misty-eyed, micro-initiative that hold no practical appeal plonked in the centre of today’s market. But this sort of vision represents is exactly the kind of creative thinking that is needed if passionate car culture can have a sustainable future.


3 Responses to “Crowd Sourced Cars?”

  1. It's very easy to talk about crowd sourcing and community, but John, Ari, Sarah, and the whole Local Motors team actually walk that talk. They are almost always on the road with the Rally Fighter, putting it through it's paces and spending long hours talking to real people in the communities they visit as one gearhead to another. I think since, Christmas, they've criss-crossed North America at least twice.

    Not only do they actively participate in their own online community, but they reach out to people all over the web and chances are, if you chat with them on Twitter or Facebook, they'll recognize you when you walk up to them in person the next time they visit your city.

    I consider myself fortunate that I've been able to see the Rally Fighter in person, go for a ride in it, and that I live in the city where the first Local Motors Microfactory will be built. It's an exciting product being built by passionate people who believe in what they're doing. It feels really good to know these people – and the Rally Fighter – are soon going to be my neighbors.

    Thanks for sharing the story of the most exciting car manufacturer in the world.

  2. Mike, thanks for covering the Local Motors story for your community here. 70 Rally Fighters have been reserved and the first customer build experience will take place this summer. Not to muddle words, but the word “co-create” has much more meaning for us than “Crowdsource”. The point of incorporating customer and community desires is just as powerful, if not more powerful, than the crowdsourcing focus of generating/taking ideas from the crowd.

    For car lovers, being a part of the design and build team is an awesome experience.

    Give me a shout and I'll keep you updated on our progress: [email protected].

    Brian – we cannot wait to be your neighbors!!


    [email protected]

    • Ariel
      Thanks for the word. I personally believe that your vision of micro communities producing bespoke products for itself is a very realistic vision of the future. In fact, this sort of thing happens in all sorts of areas already, of course. But to see it emerging in what was the original hub of mass production is truly inspiring.
      We’re planning a stateside trip later this year. Would be great to stop by and say hi and see what you do close up.
      All the best of luck with the project.