Monday, July 7, 2008

The LM Prototype - American Psychographic Rubber meets the Local Road

In the near future our customers will have the unique opportunity to "Drive the Design" - our first LM vehicle, which was born globally and made locally for them. For months now, we have been in discussions about the design we will build for our first prototype. Carefully, we have been watching the discussions and votes of our dedicated community of designers, builders, and enthusiasts as they sift through an incoming force of designs from portfolios, checkups, and competitions.

Thousands of designs are displayed in the the LM community bolstered by many thousand more comments, critiques, and visual references. This young community can already boast of two LM competition winners, more coming around the corner, a robust community of commenters, and an even more impressive group of portfolios.

In our engineering blog, Mike has made reference to some of the heated discussions we have had about our selection methodology for our first prototype and the lengths we go to to evince a designer's intent.

On May 19th and 20th, I blogged about the psychographic of our customer.

So this subject has CLEARLY been on our minds. Last night, I emphasized our mission, internal consistency in the soul and image of our product, and the importance of customer preference. But even given these tough lenses to look through, there remain many designs that our customers would "cross the frozen tundra" to buy. Still, not all of those designs are ones we should build.

So I wanted to continue to offer a little more insight about how we select a design to build.

Once we have a list of designs that enthusiasts have expressed a decided preference for, we work very hard to layer on concerns of the following nature. This process is where the "Psychographic Rubber meets the Local Road".

(, photo by MobileOak)

1 – We take note of 4 core pillars we have developed in the execution of our mission: 1 – Education, 2 – Desirability, 3 – Simplicity, 4 – Sustainability.

2 – We stick to our business model wherein we target buyers in a LOCAL MARKET out of micro-factory facilities that perform assembly, sales, and service.

3 – We like to work with members of the LM community who come from - or are connected to - a “local” area and are inspired to design work based on that area.

4 – We enjoy choosing BOTH a) sketch designs that are suggestive and inspirational but that leave a lot up to the imagination AND b) those 3D works that are much more finished so that the community and the internal team can move quickly to develop the “design process”. Either method is good, but whichever one the designer chooses, we only consider those that have received the highest praise and feedback.

5 – We look to pit our strength against the weaknesses of established manufacturers and not vice versa. This is our JUDO advantage. This is our strategy at work. To help in thinking about the core elements of our strength, here are 4 axes on which you can see where we WANT TO BE (in bold) and where we DO NOT.

I. American Authenticity (e.g. hot rod, aerospace, truck)—- vs.—- Foreign Performance (e.g. European Performance Sedan, Italian supercar)
II. Mechanicals Showing (e.g. open wheel, chassis showing, panels on frame)—- vs.—- Perfect Finish (OEM)
III. Presence of Excellence (e.g. got-to-have-it designs)—- vs.—- Absence of Defects
IV. Playing (e.g. a vehicle that actually does what it claims to in its looks)—- vs.—- Posing (e.g. a supercar look without the guts)

All of these 5 additional considerations are part of the patchwork that makes up our decision-making process and they give a much more clear window into the depth of discussion and analysis we pursue in making a decision.

Stay Tuned! We are working hard to help you drive these designs!


Unknown said...

If I were to goto Local Motors, will I have the chance to drive the car=D

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