Have you ever wanted a car that none of your friends have? How about one that you helped design and build and is super rare? A car company by the name of Local Motors has combined web technology and real-world micro factories to provide us with the most interactive and unique car buying experience I’ve seen and they invited me to tour the Arizona micro factory and talk about how it all works.
(Rally Fighter – view the full photo gallery)
The car shown above is LM’s Rally Fighter, the first in what Local Motors hopes will be a growing line of kick-ass cars that turn heads.
Design Your Dream Car Online
When asked, most people can tell you, without much hesitation, what their dream car is. Mine’s a Ferrari F430, but I have always loved the concept cars I see at the auto shows every year. Unfortunately, most of the concept cars remain just that… concepts. This is where Local Motors has found a niche.
Rather than creating concepts and never building anything, Local Motors decided to open the game up to the public to come up with the next winning car design. You start by joining the Local Motors website and if you’re creative enough, you can submit your own original car design. From the submitted designs, the community votes on what should be built. The most popular ideas then move on to co-creation, where the community helps decide the body, interior details, etc. Together, the community of site members design an awesome car from the ground up.
Even if you don’t plan to buy one, there’s plenty of incentive to join in and contribute. Local Motors hosts design contests in which the winners can win prizes or cash amounts up to $20,000, which is a great start towards buying the car you design or can just pay some bills.
When Local Motors decides to build one of the community designed cars, they begin accepting reservations. A reservation requires a $1,000 deposit, and gets your name on a list of future owners. When it’s your turn, you give them another deposit, this one for $5,000, to lock down your build date, and the remaining balance is due when you arrive to start building. After the two weekends of building, you get to take your car home with you.
At the time of this writing, the Rally Fighter, the first car available from Local Motors, is priced around $60,000, but I’m told this may go up with a move to higher-end parts being included next year. The cost, well above your standard sedan, buys you a car that looks like no other and is limited to only 2,000 built. To make your car even more unique, you’re encouraged to design a custom skin for your car. This can be accomplished solo or with the help of a Local Motors designer. This car is for the collector or enthusiast who wants something truly unique.
Get Your Hands Dirty
For some, the experience is pretty much complete at the time of purchase. For others, a big part of the experience is building the car yourself. While you don’t have to spend weeks painstakingly sweating over every little nut and bolt or even weld, part of your purchase is the experience of the build, itself. Over two three-day weekends and with the assistance of a builder, you put it all together in a Local Motors micro factory.
Local Motors provides a cafeteria, RV parking, the space, parts, and tools, and all you bring is some elbow grease and a desire to be immersed in the process. They encourage you to bring a friend, too, to help build and join in the experience.
From the outside, it looks like just a big warehouse with a car painted on the side, but inside is a well-lit, air-conditioned shop with all the tools and tech needed to get the job done. In addition to the human help, there’s also a couple large screens connected to computers with a specialized wiki detailing every step for your particular car.
As huge as the Rally Fighter is, it’s not very practical, but would make a great toy. The next car, I’m told, will be an electric vehicle, and I’m hoping it will be based on the Miami Roadster. For the auto enthusiast, this is a great package and unique experience, but the cost will leave the rest of us designing.