Most people would say that Tesla Motors is an innovative car company, but Local Motors of Phoenix, Arizona makes it look positively mainstream by comparison. At the SEMA 2015 show last week, Local Motors introduced its LM3D Swim concept, which it says will be the first 3D printed car to ever go into production. It plans to start making the cars at a new factory in Knoxville in 2016.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it is sometimes called, does not rely on traditional stampings and body parts. Instead, each car is “printed” from start to finish, which allows for almost unlimited variations in the finished product. Local Motor’s head of marketing, Elle Shelley, says each car will be “n of one” — the same but different.
Don’t care for the dune buggy look of the Swim? Order yours up in the Sport edition, a roadster version with a removable soft top. In fact, according to Gizmag, just about part of the exterior can be custom manufactured in any shape the buyer wants. The printing material is a mix of ABS plastic and carbon fiber and is 100% recyclable.
Underneath the skin, the car’s structure is like an infinite web of interconnecting roll bars. The company plans to begin federal crash testing next year and will use the basic structure as the chassis for several models. The list price of the car, which will use a BMW i3 electric powertrain, is $53,000. It will qualify for the full federal tax credit of $7,500, says the company.
Where the Model S is graceful, the LM3D Swim has a face only a mother could love. But its beauty is under the skin. The ability of the buyer to customize the car to his or her exact tastes is what will set the Local Motors car apart from every other car on the road and make it the most innovative car in the world. Smart. Safe. Sustainable. That’s the Local Motors motto.