Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays from Local Motors

You can say Merry Christmas in many different languages....

Gesëende Kersfees

Een Plesierige Kerfees


Gezur Krislinjden

Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah

Feliz Navidad

Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand

Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun

Selamat Hari Natal

Feliz Navidad

Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun

Sretan Bozic

Merry Christmas

Ruumsaid juulup|hi

Hyvaa joulua

Joyeux Noel

Bo Nada

Froehliche Weihnachten

Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!

Mele Kalikimaka

Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova

Shub Naya Baras

Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!

Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket

Buone Feste Natalizie

Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto

Meri Kirihimete

God Jul or Gledelig Jul

Bon Pasco

Buorrit Juovllat

Sawadee Pee Mai

Chung Mung Giang Sinh

Nadolig Llawen

.......or you can just tie a bow around one of these and everyone will get what you mean. May your next Christmas bring you a Rally Fighter in your stocking.

LM Rally Fighter
Designer: Sangho Kim
"Red Bull Concept": Alex Jaeger

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Home Page Design Ideas

A brief post as we are still in the throws of Federal Application Paperwork!!

As mentioned in my post of December 14th, TopCoder is running our first ever homepage redesign mini-tournament and the results are impressive.

On the 19th, the early results from the first round came in and we chose 5 with which to send the registrants forward into the second round. Now all of the original registrants (whether they were one of the five or not) can work off of the winning designs to create their own version of the new Local Motors homepage.

Here they are (below) and here is the link to vote for them on our site.....Please vote and give any comments. That input will go a long way toward our achieving perfection! The next round of submissions closes on December 29th so get you votes in. If you vote and make comments on our site, then we will be sure to send along your feedback.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Boston Motors - Announcement is imminent today

Check out the site.

By the time most read this post, the winners of the Boston Motors Competition will be clinking champagne glasses with their friends.

We wish all of the competitors well in the fine work and collaboration they have achieved.

What a magnum opus, and we are personally so satisfied to have seen Boston become a little better known throughout the world.

Congratulations and cheers all around. Happy holidays and see you in Chicago!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 1 - Federal Paperwork Hell

Only in Congress could they codify something as simplistic as a Paperwork Reduction Act. Yet it is true; they have done just that in the name of reducing waste. Bravo. Nonetheless, if what they receive now is paperwork reduction, then I dread to think what they might have recieved before this Act.

Why is this the subject of tonight's Vision Blog, well, I will give you some choices from which to guess:

1) we are buying the Pelosi car and applying for insurance

2) we are applying to receive a loan as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVMLP)

3) we are bored.

If you guessed "2" you would be correct....(though the GTxi/SS/Rt is tempting)

We are indeed applying to receive some of the unprecedented Federal Incentive that has been designated to assist Green Car Companies in their quest to change American automotive. For this reason, we have refocused part of our team and crawled under a paperwork mountain until the New Year. Say goodbye to Christmas, but despite all of the pain, I actually believe that this $25BN package to help new-thinking American manufacturers is one of the only smart things I have seen from this Congress in a long time when it comes to automotive policy.

Naturally the Vision Blog will also trim down, for the next several weeks to make way for some more subdued writing in government speak....but don't fear, we will be back soon with a full vengeance.

In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy this motivational video, after all this is why we do what we do light-weight, fast, efficient and just downright thrilling:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Boston Herald - Front Page Business Section

This is a FIRST.

We have finally timed a large circulation regional paper with an article on the company AT THE SAME TIME that we are running a competition in that region.

Today, two days before the completion of voting on the Boston Motors competition, the Boston Herald has run an article, written by Jerry Kronenberg, discussing Local Motors and its business. Good article and great to have it come out at this time.

One more day now to vote on the competition. Check out the article and the Competition entries. Vote on a couple....there are so many to enjoy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New home page coming up - Take part in it NOW

As part of an ongoing strategy to practice what we preach we are using a crowdsourcing strategy to enliven some of our website efforts. To kick off the opening campaign in this new strategy, we are running a front-end, or graphical user interface, competition on a new look and feel for our home page. Though we like our current home page.......

it is not representative of the ground-breaking, fast-moving strategy that we have, so that is why we are all about Change.

We have chosen TopCoder's Studio division to run the first competition and it is live as I type.

This is as much a test for us as it is a bona fide effort to re-charge our home. 12 registrants and counting already for the competition and the deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 17th at 1745 EST (-5UTC). This is a mini-tournament, so the top five winners of this first round will lead the way toward defining the way forward in the second and final round. Anyone who is registered in the first round can work on the 5 winning ideations in the second and become a winner.

We will announce the first round top 5 on Friday, Dec 19th. Stay tuned. Go to TopCoder in the meantime and check it out. WE especially encourage graphic whizzes from our community to give it a crack. After all, you have an advantage perhaps over a total already live the vibe of LM!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to earn our loyalty in order to help us move LM to your town.

The other day I met a HUGE crowd at the Web Innovators Conference, and many approached us about our facility location. This solicitation below came as a communication directly to me after we had returned home. It was so impassioned that I just had to share it. (Note: the Names and places have been suppressed to provide anonymity....but this guy LOVES A-Town, and I am compelled to take a close look.)

Hey Jay,

John Doe, co-founder of ABC, elevator dude. I harangued you on
the phone about A-Town today. Now, allow me to harangue you in
textual form.

If you are planning on a Southern Location, A-Town is it. A
couple of simple reasons:

1. First, you need a place that resourced, smart, early adopters want
to go. As someone who grew up in a mill town (B-Town), let me tell you
that people don't want to go to mill towns. They are great to write
depressing folk songs about, really excellent places to get quantities
of drugs for later resale, but not the kind of place that anyone would
consider as a destination otherwise. When are you ever finding
yourself going out to C-Town or D-Town just on a whim (and by whim I
don't mean "suffering from withdrawal")? You want this thing at a
desirable destination so people are encountering your brand, but can
explore it at a distance initially. It's going to take something like
10 brand encounters before someone gets into the purchase funnel for
this thing.

That's what makes A-Town an infinitely better choice. As I said
in our call, you can totally see a couple planning a visit as a part
of a day trip. "We're going on a whale watch, then we're going to see
that crazy car place my husband heard about then maybe to one of the
beaches and then to W's for some clams..." Name a cuisine that
B-Town is famous for... I believe the answer to that is "steak bomb."
Dude, nobody drives for a steak bomb.

2. A-Town has an existing industrial base. V Corporation-
making fab machines, is here. A-Town Engineering, making
specific-purpose industrial machines. Tronics. There are bunches
of things like this. We also have the industries that support the
boating industry- which btw was fab before fab was cool. We are
totally dialed in on the custom concept- every boat is
different and, dare I say, you won't find a better collection of
diesel weenies anywhere. You wanna talk diesel, I'll introduce you to
my friend G Crotchetelle who has powered the entire fleet and just
dropped a pair of Cat generators into a Coast Guard 125' Patrol
Cutter. The whole town is wired on diesel.

3. We're a crazy bunch of misfits. We have a distinct,
internationally known personality based on a conveyance- the
diesel-powered Boat. What is B-Town's personality? It's
based on sitting at a loom in a stationary mill. Not congruent with
your brand, I must say.

We are known to be insane, but industrious. Risk taking and fun, but
also serious about the work. It's the same as you guys. You'd fit
right in here. It's all about telling a story. The B-Town/C-Town
story is "from Massachusetts' industrial past comes it's possible
industrial future..." which is fine, but somewhat yawn inducing. The
A-Town story is, "A new bunch of risk-takers are taking up
residence in America's oldest port." You go from PBS to
Discovery channel that way. Way more dynamic and exciting. You get
interviews from hard-bitten yet comically friendly longshoremen saying,
"These bahstids ah crazy, but we're all crazy up heah...." What is
your narrative out on 495? Who do you talk to? A 95 year old former
mill worker? People from the past.

The visuals of the cars next to the ocean and the boats is much better
than out there anyway. Way better than visuals of the cars next to
pawn shops and liquor stores.

4. We have one of New England's scenic drives here- Route 34 out
from A-Town and around H Point through Rockytop. Rocky
coast, dappled light, quaint small village centers and tucked-away
coves. The people you are attracting are drivers, people who live to
drive. Um...B-Town and C-Town does have... the drive to
Dumsford.... which is.... cool. I guess. I think I bought a gas
grill out there once.

4. Access to the mayor. The current mayor is a personal friend and
I'd be happy to set up a meeting with all of us- her term lasts
another three years. This is the kind of thing that he's always
trying to bring to the city- since the boating industry is waning we
are looking toward the future. This is the best example of what I've
been talking about with city leaders, that the future is not in "old
industries" but in new ones. Mayor Clark is very smart, from the
business world, was a consultant for a long time, and knows his shit.
His wife is a business journalist.

5. So milk it. Come out, we'll show you around, give you the tour,
talk about the city and what it has to offer, eat some lobster, drink
a few beers. What have you got to lose?

Oh, and wear the flight suit. We're all about the cosplay. Little
known fact- once out at sea most boaters are full-on furries.

Allright- stop reading and back to making cars:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Design Forty Podcast Today over Lunch

Today, the good folks at Lextant Design, a design research firm out of Columbis, Ohio, set up a lunch-time podcast discussion with Local Motors.

What a trip! Small crowd, but motivated.

Give it a listen if you have a chance. Go to this site for the call service - Calliflower, and scroll down. The recording is about half way down on the right. There you will find the 48min recording of the podcast. It is a little slow at first, but it picks up after the first couple of minutes.

Though I do not want to ruin the surprise, the idea that struck me the most was the excitement that surrounded the small audience when I shared what our vision was for Local Motors in the next 5-10 years. I was simply smiling from ear to ear to hear one of the call members when he said that he could actually taste the anticipation and wanted to get to our first facility ASAP.

This whole conversation was in fact so successful that we are looking to use a program such as Calliflower to host discussions with our community on a regular basis. Very Simple and very easy.

WebInno20 - Audience Choice award

This evening, 5 of us attended the WebInno (Web Innovators Group) 20th meeting in Cambridge MA. We presented the concept of Local Motors to an audience of 1,000 of Boston's strongest and freshest web and mobile device minds.

In the end, we were voted as the audience choice for the evening.

What a gratifying experience. What a learning experience.

Thank you to David Beisel, Laura Manning, and Venrock for organizing the event. This event is clearly the Hub of Boston web innovation.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A lineage of Diesel Power from 1935 Auburn 851 to 2009 Rally Fighter

The relationship is undeniable. In 1935, when my Grandfather was the owner of the Cummins Diesel Engine Distributorship in the Northeastern US, he created the world's first Diesel powered passenger car, an Auburn 851 Coupe.

I had always heard stories of this great step forward, but until my Grandmother passed away and we were going through her papers, we did not know that there were pictures.


My grandfather is in the reflection in the rear window glass, no doubt smiling on with pride.

I hope he is smiling down with pride from Heaven where he is no doubt watching the development of the Rally Fighter with its Diesel Power!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Boston Motors

Over today, 10 new concepts just came streaming into Boston Motors. This is a nuanced city with a deep deep American history. It is such a pleasure to witness our community of designers grappling with the issues that are Boston and explaining them in so many different methods.

Entries continue for the next couple of days, then voting will be open for yet another week.

Go vote! Make use of the freedoms that we gained as a result of the hard work started in this very town.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Watched Shai Agasi speak tonight at Harvard's Kennedy School

Shai Agassi is the founder of Project Better Place, the battery recharging initiative out of which we powered our Manhattan Concept and some of our Hawaii Concepts. As of this week, they have signed a deal with Hawaii to put in a network of charging stations. Perhaps we will soon see the iBite on the roads of Oahu?

In the meantime, we will keep designing and building.

I very much agreed with most of what Shai had to say, however, I am still mystified as to why he or Better Place will not share their system standards so that all of us can make cars that work on his network.

Nonetheless, they continue work apace with Renault/Nissan to develope and to produce a large inventory of cars.

Not to fear. We will soon emerge as a leading contender for their production battery and system.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Join me at Web Innovators Group in Boston

On Tuesday December 9th, 2008 Local Motors will be taking its message to the street at the WebInnovatorsGroup Conference.

Presenting as one of 3 "Main Dishes" along with TripChill and Crimson Hexagon, we will be bringing our message of automotive networked community innovation to a crowd of Bostonians gathered at the Cambridge Royal Sonesta Hotel.



Here is the evite with all of the information....Register...600 other people already have.

For those of you flying all the way from Singapore to see this (wow, that is dedication).....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mr. Auto Goes to Washington

Today the CEOs of the three largest domestic auto companies brough before Congress their new plans for their companies and the reasons why they are requesting federal assistance. The details of these proposals are coming out and they range from interesting to should-have-been-done-a-long-time-ago. These hearings were related to the second piece of automotive focued funding which has been proposed to be taken from part of the TARP funding of $700BN.

Perhaps more interesting was the working group meeting that took place yesterday at the Department of Energy. This meeting was focused on the first piece of automotive focused fnding, which was approved last year and funded last month. It is a $25BN package under the auspices of the Department of Energy, which is directed at retooling auto manufacturing and component manufacturing facilities to make them capable of producing “green” cars.

The meeting was run by the energy efficiency team at DOE, and was a time to explain the "Interim Final Rule" that the Department of Energy and the Administration had written to classify and codify the way in which money would be awarded to auto companies pursuing a new fuel efficient product or process.

I found the list of attendees on the DOE website and have included them here for your reference. Clearly some folks sent their lobbyist and legal hitters, but many showed up themselves....let's hope not in private jets. This is a small, but precocious list of who's who in the auto world. Check it out..... (perhaps you too can guess who is hiding behind the names of the big law firms).

Venable LLP
Office of Sen. Feingold
McBee Strategic Consulting
Hogan Hartson
Saturn Electronics and Engineering
Fisker Automotive
Visteon Corp.
Delphi Corp
Brown Timothy
Advanced Mechanical Products
Bury David
New West Technologies
US Trade Rep
Cozen O'Connor
Kelley Drye Warren
Butzel Long
OMB Professional
Precision Metalforming Association
Capitol City Group
R.W. Beck Federal
New West Technologies
Office of Rep. Paul Ryan
Continental Automotive
Dale Kardos and Associates
General Motors
Nelson Mullins
Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association
Akin Gump
Bright Automotive
Mazda North America
Arent Fox LLP
Perman Esther
K&L Gates
XP Vehicles
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Chrysler LLC
Tenneco Inc.
ATS Communication
Patton Boggs
New York Times
Hill and Knowlton
Wetzler Nicholas

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tale of the Community Tape it is all about Member Intensity

Recently, I got inspired to look into the community aspect of other well known car companies.

Let's take a look at some of them (a random compilation from simple Google searches).

Mercedes Benz "Owners Online" - Official forum from the company. Very hard to join. Have to match exact VIN with Zip Code and Last Name on purchase. Good luck feeling like a community member. When you join (finally), your choices are to select your next Benz (thanks but most customer's are out of money when they buy one), to sign up for service plans ($$$), etc....not a site of other owners anywhere :( - Unofficial community forum site. At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 180,000 members. 1,400 online (400 members, 1000 guests). 0.2% Members on-line

Tesla Motors Owners Area: VERBOTEN....unless you have shelled out $109,000. I wonder if you've made a deposit and are still waiting for delivery, if they let you in here?? Once they do, I wonder what is behind the green door? It better be good, but my guess is that if there are only 50 delivered, and many to people like Ahnold Schwarzenegger, that there is little going on in the owners area (doubt that the Governator has time to spend chatting it up).

TeslaMotorsClub Forum: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 624 members. 24 online (3 members, 21 guests). 0.4% Members on-line

Ford Motor Company Owner Services, Owner's Community: A place to access a limited list of Owner's Benefits, a few pieces of Merchandise (car shaped flowerpots, Mazda Zoom-Zoom day packs, Mustang cologne, etc.), safety education links, and a link to outside third-party forums. At least you can get in here without listing your family lineage, but still not a real heartbeat.

Ford Truck Forum: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 490,000 members. 1900 online (700 members, 1200 guests). 0.14% Members on-line

Chevy Owner Services: The most promising yet for community, as there is a gucci Web 2.0 feel and a promise of connection with other users. But Ohmygoodness, 45 minutes later, I still was unable to get on-line with other users, after signing up for a Yahoo ID, and joining Yahoo Groups (which hosts the community), and then having Firefox browser issues, and then finally getting on but finding no one on line. Oh well.

FullSizeChevy Truck Forum: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 102,000 members. 350 online (240 members, 110 guests). 0.2% Members on-line

And now let's compare to our partner, upstart auto company, Factory Five Racing Forums: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 19,500 members. 1500 online (750 members, 750 guests). 4% Members on-line

That means Factory Five's community may be smaller but it has 28x's more activity from its members than does Ford Truck's largest forum, 20x's more than Benzworld and FullSizeChevy, and 10x's more than TeslaMotorsClub.

Those numbers may not look like a lot, but everything is about percent intensity when it comes to a share of a customer's mind and his wallet. Think of it simply as 28x more interest in Factory Five, 28x's more likely to return, 28x's more likely to ask a question of the company, 28x's more likely to give actionable feedback, and perhaps even 28x's more likely to spend a dollar at Christmas on a Factory Five part.

Wow, that is the kind of business I want to be in!

Thanksgiving thoughts of the Rally Fighter in person

Since we had a number of members my family in town for this Thanksgiving time, they asked if they could come to the LM HQ to see the progress on the Rally Fighter. With great excitement, we arrived at 16 Kendrick and my Father and Brother both made a bee-line for the shop to see the first full-size mock-up of the vehicle.

They looked and looked and looked....and looked some more on the mock-up, and then they both independently delivered their verdict:

"Impressive, I had no idea how good the proportions would look in person. I can't wait to see the finished product now. Congratulations, this is a winner." You could see the genuine interest and enjoyment on their faces.

Basically, both had been looking at the website for some time now, but for whatever reason they were unable to comprehend the scale, size, and feeling of this vehicle...until now.

It will likely be this way with many initial customers, and that is one of the primary reasons why we are so focused on having a Local presence and the ability for a customer to come to the facility to participate directly in the creation of their product. Only with such touch points, can the customer reach the last full measure of excitement that my father and brother have just experienced.

Go Local!
Go Rally Fighter!

Everyone is invited to come by our shop at any time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Boston has begun

Time to get in on the action. Boston Motors has commenced with its submission period. We cannot wait to see what the community develops as they begin to absorb the Boston vibe.

Feel the Revolution.

This may perhaps be a lesser known-city globally, but Boston has what it takes to enchant. Let's see that the entries are encouraged and the web community is self-promoting for this area.

Go Boston

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rob Burns and his surf legend - Local Motion

We are regularly asked, is there any connection between our company and Local Motion, the surf company out of Hawaii, and I have always maintained that, if anything, any relationship is merely tangential . That was, until last week when I had lucnch with a gentleman who shared his street address with Rob Burns that founder of Local Motion. He told us a story.....

As it turns out, Local Motion got its start when Rob went from door to door (rather beach to beach) to meet the Local crowd and to sell them on the idea that he shaped boards for the individual shape of the Local waves. How cool is that?! Shaping a board for local feel rather than buying one of the many cookie-cutter designs. Awesome!

Check out our early logo idea. It even played off of the name association and verisimilitude.

Sweet break dude. It is fun to know that there are businesses out there with a similar Local focus and ethos.

A model for Local Motors to emulate with Pride

For those of you who have not been following our ambition, enjoining the customer to become part of their car and to participate in their own build is a great and exciting challenge for us.

Recently, a business in a sister industry of small, volume, exciting airplanes, did the same thing. Glasair, recently received the go-ahead from the FAA to formalize their factory assist program called "Two-Weeks to Taxi". This approval was a major step in the right direction for the future of better planes and better pilots, and shows that the FAA is thinking ahead.

Here is a video that says it all. Watch right up to the end as it takes you through the entire magic and into the customers head. WOW, is all I can say. Well done.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reporting in from the home of the Rally Fighter

After almost 1000 miles of driving, we are back from Baja California
ready and invigorated to take the Rally Fighter to new heights.

What an awesome experience! Almost as good as coming home.

Much to dream about tonight.

Check out Local Motors' blog at

Friday, November 21, 2008

In Mexico

We are here for our first Baja 1000!

We drove down many wrong streets in dark Ensenada tonight, but we
finally found our encampment and we are so excited to be here.

Tomorrow the race begins.

Thanks to the Froghorn team for helping us. I will upload soon another
post with a picture of their car.

Go Local Baja!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another big day on the road

Starting at LK Motorsports to see Langley Kersenboom and his prize winning Green Rod from Factory Five,

(LK and Factory Five Green Rod with Assisted Energy Powerplant)

on to Five Axis to Troy Sumitomo and Neville's Ohm's creation of the next level prototyping shop,

(Five xis Scion xD cGaming Concept)

then off to Cerritos College to see one of the local Community College retraining centers and Bob and Len's creation of a next generation dune buggy made with a soy based resin in the skin,
followed by a quick pass through of the new Advanced Technical Education Park where LA trains everything from 4 methods of rapid prototyping to more traditional methods of model making in clay and vacuum form,

(ATEP - Tustin, CA)

and finally back up to Pasadena to meet an intimate crowd of our community for dinner at Gordon Biersch in Pasadena.

(Gordon Biersch in Pasadena)

This has been a fantastically busy but rewarding day on the road,

Tomorrow we are off to Art Center College of Design to have a day mingling with designers from that great school and to talk about LM some more, before we take off for Baja to see the start of the 1000!

Now time to check in on the news of the world, I wonder what has happened today in the automotive bailout world, and how the rest of American Automotive is progressing while we are hard at work. There is so much exciting work to be done, and I feel so lucky to be in business at this time in history.

Great Days, Fast Times, Go Local!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

First Local Motors Community Get Together!!

That's right folks, we hit San Francisco by storm: the team, the community, investors, enthusiasts, Academy of Art, Thai spice. Wow! A first real touchpoint with the global team who makes Local Motors come to life.

Thank you for all those who drove so far and for those who cleared their schedules to be with us today. We spent the afternoon from 12pm to 5pm at the Academy of Art San Francisco talking and answering questions about the Company and the Rally Fighter. What a treat for us! The crowd of folks, who gathered to hear what we had to say, listened carefully, then gave us great questions to answer, and finally gathered around the model and the presentation boards to learn everything they could about Local Motors.

Next one of the teachers and a great organizer, Max S., gave us the entire tour of the school which is housed in an old Porsche dealership and service center.

What an amazing school! Vibrant students, engaged instructors, supportive administrators, and a very forward thinking physical plant. There is clearly a bright future for Academy of Art San Francisco in the pantheon of new American Transportation Design Schools.

Later on at 7pm we gathered at the Local restaurant Thai Spice where several other members of the community came to join us for dinner. 20 of us in attendance and so much to talk about because of our shared history. It was like meeting with a group of old friends...and a couple of new ones too. See you all on the site for the Boston Competition.

Monday, November 17, 2008

3,756 miles down today and tomorrow we have our first Community Networking Event

What a day it was!

25 hours ago, I awoke at 0300 in Marion, kissed the family and headed out.

From Boston, I flew to Los Angeles via Charlotte, NC. Once in LA, I met Ari and we hopped in the car. After driving through the raging wildfires throwing smoke and ash everywhere, we arrived at Automotive Technology Group (ATG) to pick up our latest clay model.

We then drove to Pasadena, to pick up Aurel, who had spent the week with Ben working on presentation materials. We briefly visited Ben's Pasadena home studio, and then together the three of us hopped into the car and drove the 370miles north to San Francisco.

3,756 mile day.


But the miles seem like nothing compare to the magnitude of the event tomorrow. Starting at 1200, Local Motors will be presenting at the Academy of Art San Francisco, where we have a number of dedicated community members. Then later tomorrow evening, we will be taking our local community members out to a restaurant for our first networking event.

For a Company that started building a community on the internet, meeting some of our community face to face along with a model of the Rally Fighter to which they contributed, is a dream come true.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tonight I attended a ceremony in Boston to celebrate Veteran's Day and
the Marine Corps Birthday.

Many young aspiring Marines and many wounded. What a moving
experience. Speaking at the ceremony was two-time Purple Heart
recipient, John R. Campbell. Among other things Campbell recalled his
service in Hue City, Vietnam and how he felt that family and friends
had not been well supported during that time.

On Nov. 11th, Campbell launched a brand new service called Effectively, this site offers connection and fellowship
between service members and families.

What a great idea! I invite everyone to visit the site and to support
the effort. It is something all veterans and their families can use.

Bravo, John!

Check out Local Motors' blog at

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honest Questions Deserve Honest Answers

Today I spent the day in Manhattan at the offices of Strawberry Frog, a 21st century, marketing firm which has built its brand equity on sparking "cultural movements" for its clients. There, they decry dinosaur marketers with traditional approaches to messaging and channel saturation. No more TV spots for them about Mr. Whipple. The Frogs at this lily pad are looking for something much more about a grassroots movement.

No, Local Motors was not looking for its way in a Madison Avenue boardroom. We know that we have a cultural movement happening, but Scott Goodson (Prez and Founder of SF) and I were introduced by a major auto OEM head and he thought that we should get to talking. So we did.

By the way, to their credit the folks at the Frog know how to order an amazing lunch of Sushi, and I was most grateful for their incredible generosity and hospitality.

In fact, Scott, took 2+ hours out of his day to talk cars, LM, Strawberry Frog, and many other things. What a guy. We covered the lion share of our company story and looked at some images. He got LM quickly.

Toward the end of the meeting he threw a fastball and suddenly said, "I get it, I like it, but....... I think that you are missing a higher purpose. I mean, if LM didn't exist, would anyone care? I mean it isn't like the world needs more cars."

Naturally, I parried with the expected answers repeating that he was wrong, and that LM was about diminishing US Oil end-use in transportation, creating a new auto business, sustainable jobs, sustainable cars, etc., etc. But he stopped me and said, "Don't misunderstand me, I know that you and your community have passion, but really, do you transcend?"

He then said that all of the guts of a transcendant experience were inside the LM pitch, but that it still did not strike him like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. I was pretty hacked. I mean, we are the revolution, right? We are doing everything the way it ought to be done, right?

Unbelievably magnetic designs,
sourced globally,
developed professionally,
educating and being open along the way,
built quickly,
offered locally,
scarcity defined,
a true car experience,
meaningful local opportunity that feels like a reward instead of a job,
vacation in your own home town,
the birth of your own legend,
the last great project between a father and son before college,
the reward for a life spent working the line 15 hours a day,
Nothing OEM,
Everything NEW.

This is our promise, yes. 100% Local Motors.

But when I sat back and thought about whether we had crafted that message into a digestible format for the world to internalize and to carry with them, I had to answer, "No."

We get pieces, and I am proud of what we have accomplished, but today's time with Strawberry Frog reminded me with a slap in the face: we can never stop preaching the message and refining the gospel. It is time for some of that good ol' fashioned, brain-smoking, theme rejuvination and I am psyched.

I called the team on the way back from NYC, and we all agreed that the time has come for an update.

Watch out world, Local Motors is off the chain!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reflections on SEMA - Local Motors Campaign to Home Depotize this nation of car nuts

As many of you know, we recently returned from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade convention in Las Vegas, NV. There is so much to see at SEMA that it is simply impossible to take it all in. Millions of square feet of exhibition space, 100s and 100s of thousands of visitors and exhibitors all displaying their specialty wears for the automotive aftermarket industry.

The back-bone of SEMA is the small business and WOW did we see many of them. So inspiring. So motivated despite the troubles in the Global Economy. We had about 4 hour long conversations each day for about 5 days, making roughly 20 strong contacts. The rest of our visits were quick fly-bys, but nonetheless meaningful in terms of seeing what is out there.

Perhaps the most thunderous thing that I noticed hit me in one of those "Forest for the trees" moments. SEMA is about cool and different cars, but ALMOST NOBODY at the show produces cool and different cars for regular purchase by the public. OEMs are at the show, but they are the furthest thing from cool and different. Perhaps Factory Five Racing is the ONLY exhibitor with this job description in the entire show.

(A classic SEMA show car. SUPER cool, but not available for purchase in volumes of anything over 1)

(Factory Fives new '33 Hot Rod at SEMA but available now for $19,990 to the general public.)

So what? Well, isn't it fundamentally curious that a show about incredible cars has almost no examples of people who build just that.

Then I realized what a Home Show must have looked like before Home Depot or Lowes hit the market. If you have ever been to a Home Show, you would know that they are the one stop shop for all your Home and Garden remodeling needs.... but no one vendor actually sells homes or everything it takes to build a home. To recognize them today, you might say that they look a whole lot like an expanded Home Depot or Lowes but that would be revisionist history as they were around well before such businesses.


Interestingly enough, these two retailers understood the power of this aggregation of home wares and created a retailing vision which gave people a reason to rally around their home and garden and to take care of those items in a do-it-yourself way, but with a much more professionalized tool base and product set. Home Depot and Lowes did not supplant the large Home Shows, but rather they expanded the market and now sponsor such major events as ACS Home Shows.


It is this historical pattern that I think applies most directly to what Local Motors is doing to the specialty auto market. In 5-10 years, LM intends to be to SEMA and to the automotive market, what Home Depot is to the Home Shows and to the home market. We want to expand and improve the product set for all people rallying around a new type of American automotive experience. This is my reflection on SEMA and this is our Vision.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hope in Detroit? A Guest Blog by Thomas Matlack

Firstly, Happy 233rd Birthday to our United States Marine Corps! On November 10th, 1775 our nation created the Marines by declaration of the Continental Congress, and we have been doing our duty with pride and discipline from then until now. This is a special day for all Marines. Semper Fi!

(A little Marine Humor)

Now, onto the blog. On the subject of my post yesterday, I would like to provide an additional voice on the issue. The following was written several days ago by Tom Matlack. Tom is a friend, author, investor and entrepreneur, who cares deeply about what is going on in the business and the economy of our nation. Please listen to what he has to say:


With the economic cancer quickly moving from homes to cars, the first test of what our new President really means by “hope” will be determined by how he responds to the crisis in Detroit. Electric and hybrid cars are certainly part of the answer but improved engine technology is just the tip of the iceberg. With GM stealing from the it’s employee pension plan last week to make debt payments on its headquarters building, no smart car is going to save them now.

The auto industry in America is a dinosaur propped up by government invention. The 1979 bailout of Chrysler, the same one that made Lee Iacocca a household word, hurt our country because it prolonged the agony. Those chickens are now coming home to roost. Nothing less than a 21st century approach to car manufacturing can save the auto industry, save our economy, save our environment, and free us from the dependence on foreign oil which has led us, at least in part, into two wars in the Middle East.

· If you took all the cars produced in America built but not sold, what economists would call the “structural inventory” of our current system, those cars would fill a parking lot the size of the state of Rhode Island. Michael Dell perfected a flexible system of manufacturing called “Just-In-Time,” which means you only build what a customer has already purchased. This is harder to do with a product as complex as a car, but it most certainly can be done if we are willing to go smaller micro-factories that produce cars in a flexible manner.

· The Rocky Mountain Institute has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the safest cars are the biggest and lightest ones. Heavy cars only help in head-on-head collisions, which are a tiny fraction of highway fatalities. If you hit another car on an angle or if you hit a tree, you want a car that bounces. What is most important is size, since the critical factor in highway safety is the amount of time your brain has to decelerate. The fact that lighter cars are safer is hugely positive news from an environmental standpoint since lighter cars are, by definition, more fuel-efficient.

· Detroit is addicted to producing steel cars. Each plant costs $1.5 billion and is locked into place by the powerful steel worker’s union, which obviously supported our new President. To build light cars, we have to move away from steel frames and towards existing plastic and carbon-fiber technologies. This will require facing down the unions and shutting down large numbers of antiquated plants. But the goal has to be sustainable jobs, not steelworker jobs at any costs. Those outdated plants are at the very heart of the problem we have to face squarely.

· It currently takes Detroit over five years to design a new model. Five years ago everyone was rich and gas was cheap. So huge plants were erected to build gas guzzling SUVs and trucks. Last week Ford introduced its newest automobile, the 150 pick-up, to great fanfare. The thing gets 15 miles to the gallon. Flexible manufacturing requires that model design occur in real time. Think about the difference between the cycle time from Steve Jobs to put out a new iPhone and for Detroit to put out a new car. Micro factories producing plastic cars would eliminate the retooling of massive steel plants. Stringent crash-test guidelines are another obstacle. But in the end it will require a different intellectual approach to the design problem.

· There is no reason that 100% of plastic or carbon-fiber cars can’t be recycled just like the ink cartridge for your printer. Battery powered cars are great, but has anyone thought about what we are going to do with all those batteries at end of life? Batteries generally get thrown out and are one of the worse kinds of trash. Our new auto industry has to be designed so that we invest the earth’s physical assets once to build the new fleet of cars and that plastic gets melted down and reused over and over again.

A government solution to the auto industry crisis that maintains the status quo will jeopardize nothing less than our national security and our fragile world environment. Placating the CEOs who got us into this mess or the unions who have fought tooth and nail to maintain the current system will not solve our economic plight. There is both huge risk and huge opportunity in Detroit. It’s our President’s chance to show the world why we elected him. But to do so he has to completely change the auto industry paradigm, setting our sight firmly on the future rather than grasping at the few remaining straws of the past.


Sobering words, but well put. Thank you Tom. It is a pleasure to have you as the guest of the "Vision Blog" today. With these reminders, I ask each of you to write your congressional representatives and share these thoughts with them. Our nation's productivity depends on smarter solutions to the enormous issues we face together.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Economic Troubles Deepen at GM, Ford, and Chrysler...What to do?

Over the end of last week, General Motors announced that it lost $2.5Bn in the 3d Quarter and in the same period burned through $6.9BN in cash. Ford similarly announced that it lost $2.7Bn in the 3d Quarter and in the same period burned through $7.7BN in cash. While Ford claims in the same news reports that it is comfortable with its liquidity position, GM has sounded the alarm bell and has said that it will not have the liquidity to sustain normal operations come 2009. Here is the GM press release statement:

“GM’s estimated liquidity during the remainder of 2008 will approach the minimum amount necessary to operate its business... Looking into the first two quarters of 2009, even with its planned actions, the company’s estimated liquidity will fall significantly short of that amount unless economic and automotive industry conditions significantly improve.”
This is bleak; however, not unexpected.

In my blog on Sept 23rd, I talked about the impending bailout package of $25BN that the US House of Representatives had just passed for funding to the Big 3 primarily. Well, now that bailout has been approved and is in process, and yet this latest warning from GM has come together with a fresh call for another $25BN in federal aid for the automakers. The requested aid is not even clear as to whether GM and its competitors expect it to be in the form of another loan at Treasury rates or perhaps something even more lenient.

And what of Ford's most recent statement on its liquidity? In my blog on July 24, I tallied how Ford had burned from $34BN+ in its final cash war chest to $27BN by the end of the first half of the year, and now it appears that it is down to $19BN in cash as of the end of September. That is $15BN+ in 6months. Even at the pre-financial meltdown rate, that would put Ford out of cash and out of options somewhere around the First or perhaps middle of Second Quarter of 2009 that is 5-7 months away! And those losses and predictions were before the blackest month of October, in which month GM and Ford have now announced that they posted 45% and 30% record drops in total sales, respectively. Should we now expect Ford to start a death rattle even earlier.

Don't misunderstand my posting about this issue, this is NOT something that I relish. I am deeply saddened for our automotive industry, for the jobs it entails, and for the wastage that Congressional packages have already created, but we must NOT let such sadness entice us to send good money after bad.

GM argues to Congress as I type that to not bailout the industry would come at a huge cost to jobs and American productivity. I agree on the jobs point, but it is time that we took a long hard look at whether they have the argument backward on the productivity issue. Perhaps we would in fact be advancing the cause of American productivity if our Congress said "No" to any more financing. I would argue that drawing the line here is not only the right course, but the imperative.

Our next President would have an opportunity to make his case for Change and to show himself insightful on this issue if he were to deny support for such additional waste. I am doubtful President-elect Obama would take such a brave stand as it will cost more jobs and good favor in the core constituency that took him into office, but I do remain completely hopeful that he will, and that our Congress will follow his lead.

Here, however are some quotes from an October 30th article detailing an interview on that same day of then Senator Obama by Brian William's during NBC Nightly News:

"My hope is if I'm elected, that I'm immediately meeting with heads of the Big Three automakers, as well with the United Auto Workers," Obama told Williams. "And to sit down and craft a strategy that puts us on a path for an auto industry that can compete with anybody in the world."

Obama has called for doubling of the $25 billion loan package for the industry that Congress passed in September, and for the Bush administration to speed up delivery of the first $25 billion. Jason Furman, Obama's top economic adviser, has said Obama would not dismiss any option that could help the domestic carmakers.

In Thursday's interview, Williams asked Obama, "Does America need American car companies?"

"I think we do need American cars," Obama answered. "We started the auto industry. We revolutionized the auto industry again and again and again. And it built our middle class. It was the core of our manufacturing base for decades. The notion that we can't compete in an industry that we created I think is you know, unacceptable."

Obama also cited the heavy economic toll the industry's decline has had on the industrial Midwest.

"You've got an entire Midwest, Ohio, Michigan, big chunks of Indiana, parts of my home state of Illinois, that the entire fabric of those states' economies are built around the auto industry," Obama said. "So we can't just say we're gonna wash our hands of the industry."

The Local Motors' reaction:

We can compete!

We should never wash our hands of this industry!

The loss of jobs is regrettable.

Just because we created the industry does not mean that the auto-companies don't own responsibility for their performance.

More Federal money to stem their liquidity crisis is the wrong thing.

Giving them money to reconstruct by having the government dictate the terms of that reconstruction is especially the wrong thing.

The free market is alive and well, and there are companies working hard to reinvent this industry. Those are the people the President and Congress should be talking to.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coming home

It has been a long week and we have seen 1000 vehicles, and met as
many suppliers. Now it is time to return to the work at hand, but
first we did not leave Vegas without a trip to a gun range!

Here is a picture of Dave stopping the enemy in his tracks. What a

Friday, November 7, 2008

Only a matter of time - Welcome Company

Today two of our community members sent us word of a project that is setting up to debut on the web. Called "Project Splitwheel", founded by marketer and car enthusiast Piers Drake, this project is working in conjunction with Caterham Cars to bring a model into production for 2010.

The pitch is that a community of users will contribute to all/many of the major design decisions and that Caterham will then build this car for a global market.

They claim to be the first :)

We know better :))

However, it doesn't really matter who is first and who is second, in our view, there is more than enough room in the market for a couple of strong believers, so we welcome Project Splitwheel and cannot wait to see what their next step is.

Looks to us like a new generation of car producers is dawning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reminder of why I started Local Motors

Tonight on this election night, while we are busy at SEMA trying hard
to build the next great American Car Company, I thought it appropriate
to remember where I began this journey, and to talk about how success
comes not from political leaders but more from individuals who strike
out to make a difference in their world.

Here is a picture of me in Iraq in 2004 where, as part of the Multi-
National Defense Force we were responsible for securing, training,
rebuilding, and stabilizing one of the most repressed Shia areas of
the country.

After my tour, I wanted to try to continue to make a difference and
felt that if I could make a change in the way in which we build,
consume, and service cars in America that we could make a meaningful
difference in many significant issues from global warming to
international policy.

Now 4 years later, the area in Iraq for which I was partly responsible
and over which my unit shed blood and tears has undergone a total
successful transformation AND Local Motors is a reality with a strong
international backing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Local Motors at SEMA - 4 Busy Days

Yesterday was a no blog day on the Vision Blog as I was travelling to
Las Vegas for the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)
trade show.

Several of our team will be here this week looking at different trends
from both the exhibitors and the visitors.

Shows like this are long and hard and are not worth attending just
"for the fun of it". People are busy and focused and it is hardly a
time for great chitter-chatter. We, therefore, have a defined purpose
to achieve along a number of axes of effort. They are as follows:

- Observing marketing and product placement from within the industry.
This can tell us a good amount about where the customer mindset is and
what competition for mindshare, if any, we might be up against.

- Observing visitor reaction to products within our sectors of
lightweight, performance, off-road, coupe, advanced design, diesel,
buyer-built, and sustainable automotive.

- Making targeted (and ad hoc) supplier calls in areas where we could
still use value added suppliers or more depth. Some examples of this
might be in, engine management, seats, vinyl coverings, etc.

- Listening for news of any other companies in the area of
crowdsourced automotive. We believe they will come sooner or later and
we want to know where they are and how we can help each other. We
could view each other as competition but that would be more
destructive than helpful, and we want to be the first to react to such
companies and to create an atmosphere of collaboration.

These axes of effort are our main focus over the next 4 days, and we
are guaranteed to return with oodles of market information that will
help us to define our course for the next year.

Stay Tuned,

Much to follow.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hawai'i winners Announced


1st - Iman with the iBite
2nd - Piero with the Huaka
3rd - LR with the Unoh

Out of a field of 59 entries and the highest average scores yet, these three competitors have emerged as the heroes of the Hawai'i Koa automotive spirit. With this competition we set out to uncover a spirited and respectful shape that would be both functional and inspiring to buyers in the islands of Hawai'i.

What a competition!

Here are the gold, silver, and bronze:

(Iman's iBite)

(Piero's Huaka)

(LR's Unoh)

So what is the upshot. I lived in Hawai'i for 3 years and I still have much family that lives on Maui and Oahu. I want for them as much as others to be the recipients of this type of exciting design made for the islands in the islands. Jobs, pride, and great style, that is what Hawai'i Koa Motors is all about.

Mahalo Nui Loa

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A note on community SPAM - There are better ways to get feedback in today's Web 2.0 world

Tonight, I opened up a line of communication with some members of our community, those who had participated in our latest Hawaii competition.

In the last couple of competitions, we have noticed a trend of a small group of competitors who thought it might be useful to use the messaging system within the community to write a canned message to everyone soliciting votes and feedback on their own competition entry.

This post is a comment on that practice.

Basically, this practice is SPAM. Not that there is any iron-clad definition of SPAM, but in this case, the message sent out has been one of impersonal, copy/paste, verbiage aimed at the most base form of communication. A basic example:

"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"

Since this is the age of Web 2.0, everyone's communication is open for everyone else to see, and therefore unlike email, everyone can see you SPAMMING. For this reason, the effect that this behavior has can easily be to turn others away from you, your work, and your desired feedback.

"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"

.....I hope you can see my point.

Though we currently permit this form of inner community SPAM (in the interest of community self-regulation), it is not beneficial for a designer or his score. I would like to suggest a different tactic, and I would ask each competitor to try it earnestly.

1) Make a value added comment on someone's work, and then
2) ask them to respond by commenting on your design.
Note: Your comment for them ought to be specific, insightful, well thought out, and something ACTIONABLE. Any thing else (even simple praise) is, more often than not, discounted heavily.

Basically, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". If you help someone else meaningfully, they are far more likely to respond to you and to give you honest critique. Try it and I guarantee you will like the response.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lucky No. SEVEN

Today I had the pleasure of spending the morning with Rob Vandermark the CEO of SEVEN Cycles, perhaps the world's foremost process-oriented custom bicycle manufacturer.

Housed in an unassuming factory in Watertown MA, Rob and his team have built an amazing business which worships at the alter of great cycles, manufacturing excellence, and business profitability. After 12 years of business, they have learned a thing or two about manufacturing in a local environment for a heavily involved customer, and those learnings are magical for us to share in.

With a shockingly low investment in machinery and tools, SEVEN, can produce 8 custom bicycles per day at steady state with hyper quality control. What you do not see from a casual cruise around the factory such as in this YouTube video is the flex time that Rob and the team have devised to allow each member of SEVEN to work on his own time to produce the required product with maximum personal freedom and enjoyment. To achieve this freedom in a single piece flow system, Rob has had to improvise by modifying the Toyota Production System (TPS). The result, however, is a compelling vision of small volume manufacturing.

Rob and I spent the best part of the day comparing notes. The bike industry is decidedly different from the car industry, but perhaps the single greatest attribute that both LM and SEVEN share is the core belief that economies of scale are not the only way to succeed in manufacturing when there is a strong market for differentiated fact, diverging from some of the basic scale economies is almost a prerequisite for success in such a market. Heresy? perhaps, but when Ford built the Model T, there was no where near the precision machinery and supply of quality parts that is available today to small manufacturers.

What a phenomenal day. Kudos to SEVEN. Someday I hope to see a SEVEN Mountain bike on the rack atop a Rally Fighter...maybe my own :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

One Day left in Hawaii Motors

Koa warriors and Enthusiasts alike, Tuesday is the last day of voting for your favorite entries in the Hawaii competition. Come to the Local Motors site to make your preference known. This is by far the most engaging and exciting competition that we have held to date in the community. Sometimes groups and sites can claim such records each time because they are always growing, but in this case it is not only that LM is growing but also because of the enthusiasm that has been shown by those dedicated to the auto culture in Hawai'i.

You fans have invigorated this competition with an air of seriousness and puposefulness that has substantially improved the designs of many in this field of competition.

Take a look and judge for yourself. If you have ever been to the Islands, you might find something that would have resonated with you. If you live there now....well, this is yours to OWN!

Here are a few teasers.....

By msmcardesign

By Stemider1982

By rizv


By Goodrich