Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Open source car manufacture

One of my core beliefs is that participation in a market is the key to understanding it. Outsourcing is fine by me, so long as the outsourcer is close at hand as letting skills and business migrate offshore is a sure way of creating a tragedy of the commons for the 21st Century.

You could summarise this world view as a strong preference for local research, development and manufacturing. With this in mind, I thought it was worth sharing an initiative I've been following for some time: Local Motors. In essence, the business democratises the manufacture of cars. Concept creation, detailed design and manufacture are all achieved through contribution and voting in the first instance, small local enterprise in the later stages.

I'll leave the detail to their excellent website and forum, but it's worth pointing out that at the time of writing, Local Motors have succeeded in constructing 108 cars for around $50,000 each. I'd be interested in seeing their financials, or whether the concept could work in more regulated markets, like the UK, however as a demonstration of the wisdom of (expert) crowds and of local enterprise it takes some beating.

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