This is Part Two of a three part interview with Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors. They recently displayed their Rally Fighter at the 2009 SEMA show and look to change the way cars are designed, and built. Read Part One here and Part Two here.
In the previous two installments of my interview with Jay, we discussed how he turned to an entire community of car designers to decide which car to build, and how to build it. Truth be told, Jay was asking a lot from this community of car fans. They have spent countless hours designing, redesigning, and re-re-redesigning their sketches and ideas in hopes of one day seeing their cars brought to life (as well as winning a small cash prize). How could Jay repay such die-hard dedication?
The answer is pretty simple. He was going to take the typical car buying experience, and turn it on its head. Find out how after the jump. Local Motors is quite simply a car company about community. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people have become involved with designing, building, and promoting a car that could reshape the way vehicles are designed and marketed. But what good would all that combined effort be if you just showed up at a Local Motors dealership and bought the Rally Fighter the old fashioned way? Should the car community come to an end once you plop down your hard earned cash? Jay doesn’t think so.
Remember how I mentioned Jay sees the Rally Fighter as having iPhone-like customization? Well, the new owners will get to do more than choose what parts they want on their new vehicle; they will actually build it. “Our factory will also be our dealership, which will also be our service center,” Jay says. “We will build it, sell it, and service it all under the same roof.” And when he says we, he means the customer.
“Our micro-factories will be the physical embodiment of community.” The purchase process goes something like this. For an estimated $50,000, you purchase yourself not just a Rally Fighter, but two weekends at the proposed micro-factory Jay hopes to build somewhere in Arizona, as well as a set of tools. Why tools? Because you will be building your Rally Fighter alongside other customers and a trained builder who will guide you along. The idea is to have four customers per trainer, and to offset when those customers arrive. So while there will be two newbies building their vehicle in the same cluster, there will be two veterans who are further along on their build to help you along. In this way, Jay hopes to promote a tight-knit community around the car.
A design of the proposed micro-factory in Arizona.
There will be no lifts in the micro-factory, and no walls either. All that will separate the dealer showroom from the factory will be hockey glass. So while you’re shopping, deciding which of the three proposed designs you want to purchase (three being the optimal number of choices) you will actually see other customers hard at work on their vehicles.
It is a brilliant design that not only involves people in a community of like-minded peers, but also reduces the need for expensive robotic factories and armies of laborers. In this way the customer becomes the designer, the engineer, and the builder. Obviously, this system isn’t going to appeal to everyone…and that is just fine. The Rally Fighter is going to be produced in very limited numbers. Just 2,000 examples of Local Motors first foray into car building will ever be produced. It also won’t be available in every part of the country, though Jay hopes to one day have 50 such micro-factories dotting the country.
Ethylik design, by Ugo Spagnolo
Who is going to need an off-road capable Rally Fighter in crowded streets of San Francisco? Rather, Local Motors may build the Ethylik, penned by French student Ugo Spagnolo, which was selected as the winnter of the San Francisco Motors design contest. Then there is the Boston Bullet (pictured at the top of this post), designed by Mihai Panaitescu from Romania, that may once day be darting along the streets and back roads of New England. As you can see, Local Motors has far-reaching implications, drawing talent from all across the world that may have otherwise gone undiscovered. Jay and his team are still deciding on a final location for the first micro-factory, and we’ll be sure to let you know when they do.
Local Motors won’t be for everyone. If you don’t love cars, and if you’re the kind of person who hates fixing or building things themselves, there will always be plain-jane dealerships and cars for you. For the rest of us though, Local Motors offers an entirely different kind of experience, where we not only buy our car, but we know it inside and out because we helped design it and build it. That is the Local Motors experience, and nothing else in the world can compare to it.