One of the biggest stories we have covered over the last year has no doubt been the 3D printing of the world’s first car, the Strati, by the Phoenix-based company Local Motors, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago last September. While the majority of the media was clamoring over the speed at which the vehicle was printed, our biggest question was, “When can we buy one?”
It appears as if we may finally have an answer. Although the Strati itself will not be going into widespread production, details revealed by Local Motors this morning point to a new 3D printed vehicle that will act as the model for road-ready 3D printed cars.
“At Local Motors, we are hellbent on revolutionizing manufacturing,” said John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and co-founder of Local Motors. “Car manufacturers have been stamping parts the same way for more than 100 years. We now have the technology to make the process and products better and faster by linking the online to the offline through DDM. This process will create better and safer products, and we are doing exactly that.”
Back in the beginning of June, Local Motors launched the Project [Redacted] design challenge in which they promised $11,500 in cash to their co-creation community for coming up with the best designs for a road-ready 3D printed car. The top prize included not only $7,500 in cash, but also a chance to have the design enter the automobile manufacturing history books as the world’s first road-ready 3D printed automobile. There were a staggering 60+ entries received by the company in under a month, making the final decision a formidable task for judges which happened to include former Tonight Show host and car enthusiast Jay Leno, as well as SEMA VP of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak, SABIC Senior Manager Geert Jan Schellekens, and the Local Motors co-creation community.
This morning the winners were announced, with the Grand Prize going to a Portland, Oregon man named Kevin Lo, who had designed a customizable vehicle called the Reload Redacted – Swim and Sport. Lo, who has been a Local Motors co-creation community member for four years, created the vehicle with two different body types, the ‘Swim’ and the ‘Sport’. The design was built on a modular framework which allows the body panels to basically snap in and out of place, meaning the vehicle can be redesigned by the owner with ease. This modularity is also perfect for easily and more affordably repairing damage caused in an accident.
“You need something that makes you go ‘what’s that?’” Jay Leno said of the winning entry. “My top choice would be Reload Redacted – Swim/Sport because it’s sporty, fun, and you can commute in it.”
Now that Local Motors has the design for their road-ready vehicle in hand, the company will set out to meet several self-imposed goals. The very first running version of this new vehicle is scheduled for completion by September of this year. From there, they intend to begin delivery of the first Low Speed Electric Vehicle (LSEV) iteration of the Reload Redacted car in the first quarter of next year, and ultimately will debut the first fully homologated version of the highway-ready vehicle by the end of 2016.
Both the LSEV and highway-ready vehicles will be manufactured at the company’s new Knoxville, TN microfactory, which is slated to open this November. While the final price for the highway-ready vehicle has not been announced, the company tells us that the LSEV vehicle will be priced between $18,000 and $30,000.
Certainly Local Motors will have their work cut out for them with the timeline they have set forth, and will rely on their community’s support as well as multiple new partnerships they have signed with three universities as part of their new LOCO (Local Motors Co-Created) University Vehicle program. The first three universities to participate in this program are the University of Michigan (U of M), Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV). As a part of this program Local Motors has provided LOCO University Vehicles to these schools, and the schools will in turn hopefully amplify the research and development around 3D printed vehicles. For example, the University of Michigan will be focusing on developing autonomous vehicles for students to commute around campus in. This initiative will be the first testbed for on-demand autonomous vehicle transport, according to Local Motors. In addition, UNLV will also focus on autonomous technology as well as advanced materials for additive manufacturing of vehicles.
There is certainly a lot going on for this company as they plan to rapidly leapfrog the entire industry with new technologies, manufacturing methods, and a unique business model. Let us know your thoughts on these forthcoming 3D printed vehicles and what it may mean for the entire automobile industry. Discuss in the Local Motors Road-Ready 3D Printed Car Forum on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of this new 3D printable vehicle below: