Last year our readers and staff writers informally voted Local Motors’ 3D printed Strati car as the the top 3D printing story of the year. This year the company continues to innovate and has plans for a new road-ready model for 2016 or 2017 at the latest. Local Motors has repeatedly held design challenges among their online community in order to come up with the designs for their past and future 3D printable vehicles. With that said, one has to wonder what a professional car designer would create with the near endless template afforded to them via 3D printing.
As it turns out, we may soon have an answer to this question. Although nothing has been announced or likely even discussed in detail, Forbes has reported that Camilo Pardo, the legendary automobile designer, credited as being the chief stylist behind one of my personal favorite sports cars, the 2005-06 Ford GT, is interested in designing a vehicle to be eventually 3D printed.
Fishkin told us months ago that his company could offer a near infinite number of possible vehicle designs, as each vehicle can be customized and made-to-order. It seems like the next natural step for the company, once they’ve begun generating substantial revenue, would be to team with notable designers to create new models which customers could then add to their virtual shopping carts, possibly customizing them further. They could then have the vehicle printed and assembled at one of Local Motors’ 100 planned microfactories to be constructed globally over the next 10 years.
Imagine going online and choosing between hundreds or even thousands of possible 3D printable car models from some of the top automobile designers around the world, clicking order, and having a car ready for pick-up within days. Because Local Motors does’t need to stock thousands of vehicles for each model offered, like a typical car manufacturer would, and instead they can make each vehicle to order, there are no fixed costs associated with each new model. Basically they could offer designers like Pardo a compensation plan similar to that of a smartphone app store. Each designer could upload a design and receive a profit share based on the total number of cars sold which used that particular design.
As Forbes points out, should Pardo end up designing a car for the Phoenix-based company, it certainly wouldn’t have the performance capabilities inherent in the Ford GT, but, Local Motors could even offer a number of different engine and component choices for whatever design he may decide to create.
To top things off, Local Motors plans to begin selling their first Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSEVs) for between $18,000 and $30,000, a price well south of the approximate $150,000 that the 05-06 GT was originally listed for, and by 2017 will likely begin offering highway ready vehicles for a price a bit north of their LSEVs.
Regardless of whether Pardo does team with the company or not, if Local Motors can achieve success with this groundbreaking business model, there is little doubt that some of the world’s top auto designers will have interest in partnering with the company.
Let’s hear your thoughts on these possibilities in the Local Motors forum thread on 3DPB.com.