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.