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.