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.