Friday, December 18, 2009

Welcome to Sarah Stokes - Local Motors HEAD of SALES

Well it is official. Local Motors is now selling cars (43 to be precise so far), and Sarah Stokes is at the head of that train, leading new desert racers to the finish line with wit and excitement.

Joining from an illustrious career at Boston Consulting Group and formerly in the United States Marine Corp, Sarah brings a passion for the road like few before her. She is engaged and charmed by the intensity that enthusiasts bring to every automotive passion from Airstream Trailers (of which she owns 2) to cool Jeep CJ's (in which she plied her first tracks to school).

Oh and if it was not fate enough, Sarah's Grandfather used to Hill Climb Indian's. This is FOR REAL!

Give her a shout out at and ask her to bring the Rally Fighter to see you in your neck of the woods. She will have it on the road for Jan and Feb. Normally she, her husband, Kealoha "Stokes" Stokes, and their dog Skillet call the desert of 29 Palms, CA home. He is one of our god-fearing Marine Captains, and God bless Marines!

Welcome Sarah, we are so proud to have you aboard.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Welcome back to the Vision Blog - 1st Video of 13 week series

My last post was 9/11 as I went into the trenches to do battle with the dragon of Financing Risk.

Young businesses fail more often due to financing risk than any other. I was determined not to let this distract Local Motors so I made a decision to adjust my focus and schedule in order to bring more power to bear on this issue. Hence the hiatus in the Vision Blog. Many of you have written me to ask when it would return, and I so appreciated your contact.

As of 2 days ago, I am pleased to announced that we have closed on a substantial multi-million $ round of financing from some of the most visionary and supportive investors worldwide.

Given the power of this fundraising and the interest, we have decided to continue to raise more $ while the "iron is hot" so we will detail the final close details when we are all done....nonetheless, the Vision Blog will return.

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, I am at PopTech 09 conference in Camden, ME. It is a great conference and marks a special day as it is coincident with the launch of the first of our first video in a 13 week series. Every Wednesday night at 10pm EST for the next 12 weeks we will debut a new video chronicling the story of local motors.

You can see these launches at our YouTube channel

Please enjoy the story and repost, retweet, email, and share with your friends. These are going to be 12 exciting weeks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Much needed update

Vision Readers and Faithful.

Fear not that the Vision Blog has been left bereft. I have taken a month long hiatus while I have been engaged in some of the most intense fundraising efforts in the history of the Company. It is too early to report victory, but I can tell you that the initial intelligence is that we are making great headway.

In the meantime, I will keep it short and say. Keep checking in as the Vision Blog will soon return to order....

Here is a link with a video and an audio track embedded that ran on National News yesterday - PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Franchising in the Future - The Pysical API

Snarkmarket broke a story that FastCompany then spun in their coverage. The General gist is taking a close look at the "Franchise of the Future" and how a few cutting edge Companies (aka Starbucks are thinking less about their core brand and more about specialization tied to a strong back end. AKA a Physical API.

In our Micro-Factory concept where each unit is independently branded but tied to a network of others by an ethos of exciting, sustainable car manufacturetailing (no, not a typo), we have been promoting this Physical API concept for the last 2 years.

Not to claim first mover word rights, just so stoked to see others also embracing this concept.

If you are still confused as to what I am crowing on about, no worries, I suppose that you would first want to know what an API is.

Here ya go.

But all of the tech-focused speak could probably even be avoided by saying, it is a way for established corporations to allow others' visitors to plug into their service easily and often for free from their own sites.

Said in the physical is allowing unbranded customer touchpoints to operate using a strong well-organized back-end fronted with a hip, counter-culture image.... ooohhh, the discerning counter-culturalist is finally being served up a challenge.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Support from the community

Tonight I called Filski, one of our community members who recently won the Engineering Competition, to congratulate him on his win.

(Filski's winning entry)

We got to talking as often happens in these calls and he said something that floored me.

I will paraphrase as I did not record,

"Jay, how do you guys keep your investors happy in such a dour economic time? I mean the global car industry is in meltdown and you guys are charging forward into the void. Whatever you do, please know that I go on every day (sometimes several times during a day) to see the updates and am completely amazed to see you pressing forward with every part of the Rally Fighter. It is so uplifting to know there are folks out there such as yourselves that care about cars and design and transformation. I just think it is awesome and I want you to know that you have a world of people pulling for you."

'nough said. I will sleep well tonight.

Filski, we are here to get the job done, don't worry we got your back.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A special open letter to the Community

This communiqué, we sent out tonight at the end of the first ever engineering competition.


To one of the select Charter Engineers,

You are the first great example of the brilliance to come from our community of engineers. As we have gained powerful engineering insights from people in our community during Rally Fighter development, we have begun to understand what you and the community are capable of. As far as we're concerned, you are capable of tackling any challenge; especially if you work together with other like-minded folks.

This also represents a first of many others to come - chassis data was made available and you turned out in numbers to make it into something that it was not before, but rather something with functional and aesthetic design that it could be in the future.

I am thrilled to see that we had 12 feasible Light Bar designs in this first engineering competition. You are all finalists, and should be proud. Some community members did not make the cut to the final 12, as they were unable to meet the competition criteria. You should be proud of what you have accomplished.

Tomorrow morning at 10am (est, -4 UTC) we will announce the winner of our Light Bar Engineering Competition. Join us as we celebrate this first major accomplishment from our Engineering community.

Very Respectfully,


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guest Blog: The problem with cars and sustainable design

When I think of the term, "sustainable design," I immediately picture the pyramids. Still drop-dead gorgeous, the Gyza pyramids were perfectly constructed for the purpose of honouring the dead, and display an intrinsic harmony between form and function. And they're still standing without electricity, water, or the Internet, over 4500 years after being constructed.

Oh, and people still debate whether or not they were built by aliens. Or Transformers.

With vehicles, I wager that we haven't yet created such timeless, sustainable design.

As I mentioned above, design is both form and function. Sure, a Ferrari 250 California is beautiful, so is a Voisin C27 Aerosport, and countless others. Problem is, their function is directly related to gasoline to keep them going into the future. Otherwise, they become very beautiful paperweights — but not cars.

IPods are beautiful objects, but without future support from Apple — or a steady supply of power — they become form without function.

Personal mobility is already a huge issue on this planet — and an issue that changes almost across borders. In the US, it's about meeting ever-more-stringent safety and emissions standards, while keeping costs low for the consumer. In China, to contrast, the issue is in meeting an incredible demand for cars, and the socioeconomic implications that ride along with that.

A well-designed car for American consumers probably isn't going to be celebrated in China, and vice versa. But auto manufacturers know this, and spend billions of dollars tailoring vehicles to suit specific markets the world over.

Problem? A well-designed vehicle — in America, China, or wherever — isn't going anywhere without oil.

And that's why open-source design can transform the well-designed vehicles of today into sustainable ones for tomorrow.

Kudos to Local Motors here in America and Riversimple in Europe, and a few other startups that recognize that sustainable vehicle design isn't just about the looks, the powertrain, or using recycled materials. Sustainable design is about creating a consumer product that can be adapted over time to fit different needs and different fuels.

Making vehicle plans available to consumers means that with a little skill, time, and money, Local Motors vehicles can more easily be adapted to different powertrains, fuel sources, and environments. Sure, Ferraris will remain beautiful, but what happens if the oil dries up in a hundred years? Do you think collectors will rip out the engines and install battery packs and electric motors? Ha! They'll be all form and no function. 

Anyway, I look forward to the next 50 years of the automobile. Vehicles may not be as beautiful as the ones we've loved in the first 100, but you can bet they'll be more sustainable.

I want to thank Michael for writing this impassioned blog.
Michael Banovsky is an award-winning automotive journalist, blogger, and photographer, based outside Toronto, Canada. He contributes to, actively Twitters, and runs his own website at When not writing, he's guarding precious cables around the apartment from his kitten, Arcee, jogging, reading, or drinking coffee to put him to sleep.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where does car body design transcend?

Recently the world witnessed the introduction of the Stile Bertone designed Mantide supercar atop the Corvette ZR-1 Chassis and running gear.

Jason Castriota and his creative team at Bertone arguably created a visual masterpiece with the body - or a disastrous dustbuster-looking shape in some people's minds - but how ever the opinions may vary, they are nothing short of intense.

I think that is a win. A win for Jason. A win for Bertone. A win for design.

...and sadly, probably a loss for Corvette. There is a palpable feel that whether you like the Mantide or not, that the ZR-1 is a "bargain". It is a "special performer" but one that is quietly looked upon as an unobjectionable shape... something that "Thank goodness, at least is not making a statement."

What a shame!


Despite all of the claims to the contrary, the biggest issue here is that the ZR-1 is a remarkable piece of engineering, but somehow the body does not/or should not reflect the value inherent in that chassis. Maybe that is why the combination of the Mantide body and and the ZR-1 chassis has garnered $2MM instead of the standard $104K.

If it weren't clear enough, I walked into the Hertz rental car area today and what should I see but the following picture:

Call this "prestige" or paint it yellow and hope for the best, these cars are what renters are looking for. If the Mantide were made in this quantity and placed in such a line, I am quite certain that its value would be impacted...Isn't that therefore, what the Mantide tries to avoid with its scarcity.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The end of a festering problem is always messy

The pre-existing US auto industry has proven unsustainable in the recent market conditions. Fact.

So Bankruptcy has taken hold and GM and Chrysler are working their way through the destruction of all shareholder value, most bond value, and the value of many other stakeholders in order to make it out to the promised land of a rejuvenated business with a vastly lightened load.

And as many of us have heard, one of those stakeholders which was crammed down during this process was the dealership network. Mass closings are being enforced, franchiser liability for dealer contracts was thrown out the window, relatively small wind-down payments were made, and a secretive "arbitrary" process ensued to choose which dealers went to the chopping block.

And now... no surprise the Auto Dealer Economic Rights Restoration Act has reared its head. As the WSJ reported today, the White House is gearing up for a massive fight with Congressional legislators whose (formerly) wealthy and (formerly) bloated dealer constituencies have stirred the hornets nest declaring that they were treated unjustly and want to be reinstated.

The White House thinks of it as "meddling" with its golden plan to "restructure" the industry. True. But that is what you get for steamrolling.

The dealers consider it a restoration of their legal rights. True. But that is what you get for hitching your wagon to a tired horse.

In fact, the dealers are really only asking to be allowed to compete in the market to see which dealers die-off naturally, instead of being subjected to an artificially random closure slate.

Yuk. Messy. Predictably Ugly. The end of a festering problem.

In fact, it doesn't really matter who is right in this penultimate death-rattle. The point is that the size of the industry in its pre-existing configuration was unsustainable. It was unprofitable. It was not going to survive in a capitalist system.

I regret the time wasted and the dollars spent fighting this case, because it will undoubtedly be a Pyrrhic victory.

But can we really expect anything more from a compassionate Congress that has been well-funded by both a dealership club and an OEM dynasty?

After all, I was walking across the very same Capitol Hill today on which this battle is being fought and as I walked behind the Capital Building, I was struck by an automotive image.

No less than 26 black Chevy/GM Suburbans parked around the perimeter! How can you let the dealers or the OEM go away when they drive you to work every day? Really.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Where is the soul of the car industry? Joe vs Michelle

This in from the Boston Globe a couple of days ago:

(Globe Staff Photo / Jonathan Wiggs)

Although her father, Joe Gildea, 62, has dreamt about Cadillacs since he was 14 and now collects them, Michelle Gildea, 20-something, said she's happy getting from Point A to Point B in her hand-me-down Camry and more interested in her BlackBerry than cars. Are cars dead to the young generation?
Hold the phone.

While all the fighting has been going on about gas, electric, consumption, anthropogenic global warming, and particulate emissions, who is minding the store?!

Could this be true? Is there an explanation?

Could it be:
Old guard (cars) vs. New guard (electronic gadgets) - (What this article suggests)

Or Maybe it is:
Male (interested in cars) vs. Female (not interested in cars)
More financially secure (expressive car owner) vs. less financially secure (can't own an expressive car),
Freedom device in the 50's (the Car) vs. Freedom device in 2009 (the internet enabled phone), or
Some other reason, such as "pure chance"?

You can parse through this graph to try to divine a trend, but I think it is hard. Both segments young and old, have compressed from '05-'08.

Nonetheless, just because we cannot isolate the trend, the questions are compelling. I for one think that there is a HUGE grain (aka boulder-sized) of truth in this article's observation and what is going on between Joe and Michelle. Yes, they may be the worst stereo-typical examples, and sure there are auto-focused youth hotbeds like Scion and the Fast and Furious franchise to cling to, but deep down, over the last 5 decades, the auto industry has lost a vital connection with the youth.


(IMDB: He's just not that into you)

Does this mean that auto company's should pack it in? Trade their fender presses for iphone housing injection molders?

Not in my estimation, BUT current automakers need to take a long hard, customer facing look at their entire business and Fix It or they will lose Michelle for ever, and not even own a fender press worth trading in.

Apologies in advance to those terminally addicted to the old way of doing business, but I care too much about this industry not to call a spade a spade.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another milestone - 7/15/09

Let's just say that we crossed a major milestone today!

4 years ago LM was a glimmer.

2 years ago we spent the first investor dollar.

Today we harvested the first cash!

I am so happy. I almost cannot believe it.

Much work to go to convert these deposits to sales, and we will care for our cutomers with ZEAL, but this is a day to celebrate.

Join us in raising a glass. It is a great day.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Do we have a say as customers in the new GM?

As GM customers, when it comes to new product, will we be “talked at” or “listened to”?

The early indications of what is going on at GM sound like a lop-sided parent-child conversation:

When you fill out a Christmas wish list, would you prefer your parents fill it out instead and sign your name?

Maybe they should blow out your birthday candles?
Strip the petals off of your daisy?
Blow the spores off of your wish flower?
Make a wish on your shooting star?

No, No, No, and No.

You didn’t like it when your parents didn’t listen, and you shouldn’t now when your companies don’t either.

Since we are all small owners of the largest percentage of GM stock now (61%), we have a duty to ask and to examine our Company’s way forward. Asking these questions is especially important now that the Government appointed car czar, Steve Rattner, has vacated his post leaving former steelworker union advocate, Ron Bloom, in charge of government oversight.

The bankruptcy may have been record quick, but we all should care more about the eventual results and the ultimate change and not the overall speed of bankruptcy.

Last Friday, Fritz Henderson, long time CFO, employee of GM, and new CEO of GM, laid out his focus on us – his customers,

“Going forward, I have three priorities for the new GM: customers, cars and culture. I list “customers” first because they are our top priority… we’re going to be obsessed with it – because if we don’t get this right, we don’t get to do anything else. It’s that simple.“ (GM FastLane Blogs, July 10th)

He then gave us a clear indication how his organization was ramping up to “serve” customers by choosing, making, and selling great products to us while listening to our complaints.

On serving customers: Henderson said, "Today marks a new beginning for General Motors, one that will allow every employee, including me, to get back to the business of designing, building and selling great cars and trucks and serving the needs of our customers." He also promised a pilot program to be able to buy cars on eBay. (Friday Morning Press Conference, July 10th)

On listening to complaints: The automaker is launching a "Tell Fritz" Web site to allow owners and the public to share their concerns with senior management, and Henderson plans to go out on the road every month.

On personnel changes to carry out this focus: The following new appointments have been made with four long-time insiders:

Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman responsible for all creative elements of products and customer relationships (This now includes Marketing)
Tom Stephens, Vice Chairman, Product Development, (Lutz’ old job)
Ed Welburn, Vice President of Design, (same job as before)

These three (above) will work together to guide all creative aspects of design. GM's brands, marketing, advertising, and communications will report to Lutz for consistent messaging and results. Lutz will report to Henderson.

Mark LaNeve, Vice President Sales and Service (Same job but no longer includes Marketing)

In summary, the total change to focus on customers boils down to these stark elements:

1) Make shopping and buying easier through a bid on-line (eBay) process – long overdue, not really any different for customers who can already do this on eBay Motors, at CarMax, AutoNation, and a host of other sites.

2) Make Service better – not clear how yet.

3) Let Bob, Tom, and Ed design the cars and let Mark sell them – These same 4 have been doing that for the last 10 years.

4) Launch a Tell Fritz website – Good, but a standard corporate feedback channel that is focused too narrowly on complaints.

5) Get Fritz and management on the road to hear concerns – Same as 4.

So how will the new GM hear customers?
Where is the new listening apparatus?
Who has come in to bring the fresh blood?

Like readers of this Vision blog, the VLane blog, attendees of twitter #carchat, and devotees of so many other forums, I want to talk cars, all the time, every hour, of every day. I don’t want a meager on-line chat with Bob Lutz, and I don’t want a job in his organization. I want a robust 21st century, customer-driven, OPEN, organization, whose organic makeup is consistently infused with my blood. You can still make the cars and make decisions, but at least use my energy in the process. That would be fresh. That would be new. That would be American. I am one of an army of CUSTOMERS. I have daily opinions that will make the GM product better, but the Company needs to know how to listen to me instead of talking at me.

Let’s think about it:

Will I give you an idea you can't make? >> Doubt it. You’re pretty good at making stuff, so let’s talk.
Will I give you ideas that are too expensive to implement? >> Doubt it. When you consider the cost of OnStar, employee healthcare, and the Volt, most of my ideas are cheap.
Will I tell you that someone else is already doing it better? >> Hope so. We should all be so lucky to have such early warning networks.
Or are my ideas so patently uninformed, that engaging me is futile? >> It’s beginning to smell that way now, and if you cannot break free of this belief, you will lose me forever.

Resetting this balance is the critical, time-sensitive challenge in GM’s bid to re-focus on customers.

As Fritz closed on Friday, “"We recognize that we've been given a rare second chance at GM, and we are very grateful for that.”

You have, and it is rare, and unfortunately it appears that you are losing the battle already.

Here is GM’s “re-opening” Press Conference (embedded below) and July 10th press release for you to read for yourself.

Friday, July 10, 2009

GM to exit bankruptcy - but no move for Lutz

Today at 9am EDT, it is expected that GM will sell all of it's assets
to a new GM erasing a substantial portion of it's debt and setting the
stage for a smaller better capitalized company to go forward. Though
the models will be fewer the business is not substantially different.

In perhaps the most outward sign of this business as usual, Bob Lutz,
former head of Global Product Development, has announced that instead
of retiring, he will re-up as head of Global Product Development.

It is not that I don't respect Maximum Bob, in fact I do, but why he
would not share his skills with one of the more forward thinking
Companies when he had the clear opportunity to break free, is a mystery.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

1930 - When design ruled and American cars were to be admired

Today I fell in love with another car. Here is a taste:

My 1994 former Viper RT/10, My 1971 280SL, the Bugatti Type 57 Atalante, the Ford GTX-1, the Lambo LM002, these have been some of the members of my fantasy which today I added another member.

452 cubic inches (7.2 liters), V16, powered, 1930 Cadillac Roadster.

A "Playboy's Car" in the Truest sense.

Turned polished dash, dual vacuum-assist fuel pumps, Golf Bag cubby, oak canopy struts, Running board puddle lamps, Triple fender steps, porcelain hood emblem, Rumble seat that could seat an elephant, articulating front lamps, and dashboard lights of stainless bullets. These are just a few of the elegant features.

But it is perhaps the body work and fenders that go on for MILES that made me fall hardest. This is a car who is from an era when design was alive and American cars truly were at their zenith. There was, at the time, nothing that an automotive connoisseur could have desired more. No excuses, no embellishments, this was the pinnacle.

We have lost that in this country - it is almost too obvious to even point that out - but one visit to a car like this, and I am doubly determined to bring it back responsibly.

A recent friend of mine, bought this in Florida several years ago and has had it lovingly restored.

And if seeing is not believing, then perhaps you will get the vibe when it is cranked over! It has been said that the only thing you should hear when a Cadillac V16 is running is the sound of the fan blowing air into the carburetor air horns. Judge for yourself...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gut in my throat...with excitement and anticipation - an entrepreneur's note

In the last week, this is the third time that I as the CEO of Local Motors have had my gut in my throat, bound up with anticipation.

The first was when we spent the first dollar of investor capital. At that moment, I knew in my gut that I was committed. It was great and scary all at once. I was alive with anticipation.

When it is your money, it is always easier to spend, but when the fiduciary responsibility steps in, you are bound to a higher standard, and you KNOW it.

The second time was when we declared a winner in our first design competition and I had to call the guy in Australia, tell him, and hope that he would be satisfied with the contract of several thousand dollars in exchange for a limited - but meaningful - set of rights to his precious design.

We were setting the market clearing price for distributed car design in this transaction. It had never been done in this way, and many people tried to convince us that it couldn't be done. If it couldn't be done, then we would not have succeeded. We did it.

Each of these two memories came rushing back this week during a third and equally momentous event. On July 15th, we launch the "Buy Button" that changes the face of American Automotive and takes Local Motors to the next level: we elevate from planting and watering to harvesting value...we start selling product. In advance of that event we have begun to receive a great deal more attention and several customers have begun to express their intent to place a deposit. Today I was explaining to a future customer the path that the purchase will take for his owning a Rally Fighter, and it suddenly hit me full force that I was having a third moment. I have always dreamed of making cars, but somehow the enormity of being responsible for placing such a complex and magnificent product in the market struck me with a great dose of sobering introspection.

We are ready no doubt, or perhaps I should say "you are never ready" but we have prepared fully. In any case, we are up to the challenge and look forward to seeing our charter customers drive away.

That will likely be a fourth moment in time for me.

I am honored to be able to be involved in such a Company and to feel so alive. I worry some times that I will never have such feelings again in a least not for a long time. So, time to savor.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rearranging the Deckchairs

For the last 10 months the global automotive industry has been in a nosedive. Interestingly throughout the hubbub, the crew of the greater OEM family has been working hard to rearrange the deckchairs while many of the rest of the hijacked passengers have looked on in amazement. I think that we are all supposed to believe that this reshuffling is a signal of value-added and refreshing change, but I would submit a different take. Let's recap the scorecard.

Fiat has taken hold of Chrysler.
Tata has burdened itself with both Jaguar and Land Rover (now JLR)
Magna has taken on Vauxhall and Opel
Penske has absorbed the weight of Saturn
Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industries is trying desperately to win approval for its bid to buy Hummer
Koenigsegg has stolen the defeat of Saab from the jaws of victory
Prodrive has hold of Aston Martin
and on and on

But under the surface is there really any magic going on? Penske is trimming and hoping to wait out the storm, Magna cannot sell into the US, Fiat won't dare put any money into Chrysler, Tata must raise 1BN GBP before September, etc etc. and for what? If there are innovative plans going on under the surface of any of the mergers, those ideas are so distant and hidden that no one is privy to their impending attack on the status quo.

I sadly believe that inertia is at work, and we are idly watching as deckchairs are being rearranged in grim resignation with those farther aft holding a hand out to those closer to the water, only ignoring the fact that the whole ship is headed to Davey Jones.


- Unsustainable US Oil end use.
- Strategic dependency on foreign petroleum.
- Global balance of power hinged on places like Russia, Venezuala, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran.
- Petroleum based externalities (CO2, NOx, particulate emissions).

To name a few, these disadvantages of the old-school car economy are gasps of a dying breath and harbingers of worse things to come.

It is important to remember that there was a day when the status quo was made routine, before which customers searched for a new way of doing business. The "service station", the "dealership", the "OEM", the "Tier 1 supplier"... These were not preordained entities with some inalienable right to exist. By force of habit we permit them to ride on even if their original intended purpose is long gone from the executive summary of their pitch deck.

Just look at Baltimore in 1910. A population of 550,000 and yet there were 17 American Car Companies all doing business in the heart of the city! Seventeen. Hup, Lozier, Paige, Ford, REO, Pierce-Arrow, Poehlmann, Trumbull, Oldsmobile, Beehler & Ogden, Cacteccar, Marmon, Nash, Auburn, Maryland, Lambert, and Babcock. The industry was in explosion and many prized segments were up for grabs. Coachbuilders, bicycle factories, light machinery, home delivery, luxury purveyors, all were positioning to get into the limelight. The GM and Fords of the day were the Ohio Carriage Manufacturing Company run by H.C Phelps and the Durant-Dort Carriage Company of Willy Durant. In 100 years most of these names are a distant memory.

(Mt. Royal Dealerships, Baltimore, MD circa 1910,

If we had to start again, given the building blocks we have at hand? We probably would use many of the pieces that currently exist, but changing an owner and trying to rebuild the ship to look the same, is destined to fail. Think about personal transportation; where vehicles come from; and how they make it into your home and heart.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Birthday America! From the Whole Team at LM

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Andy Grove - Intel Maven and 1997 Man of the Year may have made his finest commentary yet - A New Vision for Cars

(Andy Grove, image:

Speaking across a flurry of forums (magazines, conferences, interviews, etc.), Grove's message is simple and compelling....AND tailored to LM. He is touting the shift to electric cars in this country, but perhaps even more appropriately is his forecast of the method of adoption....

This passage from the Associated Press 7/1/08 and a talk reiterated at Stanford Graduate School of Business just yesterday, both make a clear statement of his bias.

Grove says the fledgling plug-in hybrid movement offers parallels to the Homebrew Computer Club from the mid-1970s that helped electronic hobbyists in Northern California set the stage for personal computers. Plug-in hybrid conversion shops could spread the technology in similar ways.

"The personal computer ... went to individuals first before it went to corporations. The conversion goes to individuals," Grove said. "Electric cars ... the corporations are sitting, wishing this whole friggin' thing to go away. Which is exactly what the computer companies' attitude was to personal computers."

Unfortunately on the opposite side, the intransigence perpetuates. Listen to the big auto industry's attempt to coopt this revolution.

Automakers have urged the government to provide more consumer tax incentives and research aid to develop advanced batteries, but they have questioned efforts to retrofit the vehicles.

Any changes to the engine would void the warranty, and the alterations could undermine the vehicle's reliability and safety functions, automakers say.

"We strongly discourage consumers from retrofitting vehicles," said GM spokesman Greg Martin.

Who will win? the homebrew car modifier who doesn't take no for an answer? or the big company who only gives no for an answer? I am most tempted to trust the mind that brought us Intel.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Friends and LM supporters host their own Burgers, Cars, and Welding - California Style

Long time friends, car builders extraordinaire, and overall quality folks, Dave and Mary Borden, recently completed a picnic and welding clinic at their home where they:

-invited like-mined folks,
-set up 3 welding stations (2 MIG + 1 TIG),
-brought in a ringer (Matt Rogers - friend but no relation),
-provided the grub,
and voila.....

Fun, learning, and food was had by all.

Here is the gallery for some more pics. Can you pick out the GTM that Dave so lovingly created?

Bravo team Borden and West Coast car folks.

Join us on July 10th, 2009 at 5pm at 16 Kendrick Road where we will try to replicate the experience of our West Coast family.

This stuff is contagious! Go Local!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to answer questions about a disruptive business model - NOT EASY

When starting a disruptive business, there is usually not an identifiable precursor company which makes it easy for interested people to understand what the new business is doing. Consequently, early interactions with interested people are defined by questions that assume a lot (incorrectly) and that make it difficult to redirect questions.

For example, each of these following questions is an example of one directed to the founders of the business before it was well-known, and each, quite innocently, is looking for an answer that doesn't exist, because the question is predicated on old business models that the new company has not espoused:

"Oh a new furniture store, I love that. What brands will you be selling?"

On Cold Stone Creamery:
"I love ice cream, how did you decide which ice cream flavors to order before opening?"

On Build-a-Bear:
"My daughter adors Teddy Bears, do you have a Michael Jackson one in stock?"

On Zara:
"Great blouse, can you check your other stores to see if you have it in my size?"

On Linux:
"How can you possibly employ enough good coders to beat Microsoft?"

On Digg:
"Cool, a news popularity contest. Should I read the Times first to see which articles are the most popular, before I Digg one?"

On American Idol:
"Live music is cool, Simon, but what makes you think that you can pick someone who the audience will want to watch?"

On Local Motors:
"Cool! a new car company...what kind of engines will you make?"
"Cool! a new car company...what car model (singular) do you make?"
"Cool! a new car could you possibly raise enough money?"
"Cool! a new car company...but isn't this the worst time ever to be in that business?"

I think you get my point. At Local Motors, we encounter these same questions every day, and we do our best to answer by focusing on the business at hand. It is a challenge, however, because we are so different from the status quo and want to make a statement in the market that makes that clear enough so that the world understands.

Drive the Design!

Go Local!

Friday, June 26, 2009

An additional look for the Rally Fighter. Tell us which wheel you like the best, Please!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The field is dividing - Maya - Riversimple - Local Motors


Today ExxonMobile in concert with Electrovaya announced the introduction of a low-speed, 2 seat, electric car called the Maya 300 which is due out by 2011 and will get 120 miles on an 8-10 hour charge.

(Maya from


Recently a non-profit cooperative between private citizens, private companies, and the UK government has introduced a lightweight, two seat, hydrogen fuel-cell, capacitor boosted, personal mobility leased vehicle, Riversimple, that will never be for sale but available for leased used.

Local Motors:

2009 will see the introduction of the strongest, lightest, safest, and sexiest vehicle every to be conceived of a crowd. The Rally Fighter runs clean diesel, will get 40+mpg, carry 4 adults, and fly at high speeds across the roughest desert terrain...and that is just the first of hundreds of styles and models that you can own, build, mod, and fetish over.

Let's recap, because these are actually highly divergent concepts that may be the future of the market.

Maya: Lowest cost, neighborhood vehicle, will not meet US highway regulations, will probably not try to. Mass production of one single style. You can own and make it your own. It will not change quickly.

Riversimple: Small but expensive (for a long time into the future, that is if you could own it), dependent on a future hydrogen economy. You cannot ever call it your own, as you merely steward it before it goes to the next person. Style has no place in this equation as this is purely utilitarian. Very handy, and very plain.

Local Motors: Style, personalization, and the latest technology available today, always. Serviceable, available, made just in time, irresistable. Not Mass market, many niche markets.

Mass v Style. Future v Now. Practical v Desirable. Green vs Green. New vs New.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Serious news about government financing + a little automotive laugh

Today the Obama administration announced the first loans under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVMLP).

The loan commitments announced today by the President include:

-$5.9 billion for Ford Motor Company to transform factories across Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio to produce 13 more fuel efficient models;
-$1.6 billion to Nissan North America, Inc. to retool their Smyrna, Tennessee factory to build advanced electric automobiles and to build an advanced battery manufacturing facility; and
-$465 million to Tesla Motors to manufacture electric drive trains and electric vehicles in California.

These are the first conditional loan commitments reached as part of the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. The Department plans to make additional loans under this program over the next several months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production chain. Local Motors has applied to be one of those.

"We have an historic opportunity to help ensure that the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks are made in America," said President Obama.


The auto industry is turning around and this government support is a major step forward.

Now for a little levity...this is from a blog I have recently come to like The Carsala Blog by Michelle Naranjo, if you speak German, please translate for the rest of us!

Acceleration - So many exciting additions to the site...and it is just the beginning. Where is the Wallpaper?

In the last week, changes to the LM site have begun to accelerate to accommodate the rapid advancement at the Company. Some have already been launched and others are in the chamber ready for fire.

A Newsletter Signup
A Press Update Signup
Video Carousels on Home, Buy, and Build areas
New Buy Page Rally Fighter images
New Home page Rally Fighter images
New Build Thread updates with pictures of Rally Fighter and the latest mold pieces
Easily findable Twitter profile links

And then there are the items that you have yet to see or hear about because we have yet to put them into action. Why? Because no matter how hard we try, we are always humbled by community members that give us a blinding flash of the obvious. This is why we love the community so much because they always force us to improve. In this case, I am talking about the ...

Local Motors Wallpapers which you see notably absent from our intergalactic collection of great design community members and their works.

This weekend, a community member told me that he had been using BMW "Wallpaper" at every chance he could on his iPhone because it was so much fun to look at and so easy to use.

He then showed me a BMW concept sketch that he had downloaded at the BMW website.

CONCEPT SKETCH!! Yikes. We maintain one of the best and most robust suites of conceptual designers in the world right here in our forum; and it is bordering on criminal that our community members are going to old school sites like BMW to get some of that "leading edge stuff."

Criminal! But not for long. Stand by for a way to get easily the best of the best of the best designs in the LM community and to put them right onto your computer, laptop, or mobile device for your viewing pleasure.

Here is BMW served up LM-style highlighting the skills of Community member Ben Messmer ... I'd like to have some wallpaper with just this kind of work! Soon the rest of the cool things to be found at LM in this time of great change.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weekly Leader Podcast

It has been a long and successful week of accomplishments, but perhaps the event with which I am most satisfied is the podcast interview with Peter Mello, founder of the Weekly Leader, who with I discussed leadership tactics and my approach to leadership within Local Motors. Weekly Leader is both a website and e-zine, that deals exclusively with questions of leadership. I am most impressed with Peter and his team and the leadership franchise they have created.

Check out the podcast, you can download it at the Weekly Leader or at iTunes.

We are going to finish up Part 2 of the mini-series this upcoming week. If you have any feedback, please leave it in the comment section and I will be sure to address the comments in the next podcast.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yesterday was a day in the trenches

Some days as an entrepreneur you have those moments where you look back over the day and just say, "wow, I did all that and it doesn't even seem like I accomplished 1/2 of what I wanted." The tough part is that 2 years ago, I would have been elated to accomplish 1/4 of what was on the "list" for the day, but my expectations have grown, perhaps in a way that my capacity for accomplishment has a difficult time keeping pace.

Let review the tape:

0700: Breakfast with the boys and mom

0730: Review work done by a community member over the night.

0800: Get Facebook messages from community members that tell us about media covering LM

0830: Get to work first and do my chare of cleaning the office for the week (we call it field day).

0900: Try to get a haircut but forgot my wallet (a common problem for a crazy entrepreneur).

0910: Call investors to update

0915: Short team standup (networked from Japan, to Chicago, to Wareham)

0930: Sign checks to pay the bills

0945: Meet National news that has come to film me, the business, the product, the experience, and the team.

0945 - 1300: Interview and tour

1301: Holy Cow almost late....Change clothes FAST!

1302: Drive to Boston (really fast) for meeting with 9 person team from the State House discussing incentive packages for LM. On the way talk to 9 people on the phone. Schedule two investors to meet next week and two future customers to have a tour.

1530: Drive back down to LM in rush hour traffic.

1700: debrief progress on doors, seals and windows of the Rally Fighter. This is an awesome vehicle and to think that the community designed it, and we are bringing it to fruition with great engineering and fine build quality is humbling.

1900: Home to tuck the boys in. Read quick story of Go Dog Go.

1930: Off to dinner with the family of one of our team members. They are here visiting from France for the first time ever, so I must dust off my weak French vocabulary and conduct myself with care. How do you say "stem cell research" in French, I cannot even think how to describe because my mind is being stretched like Gumby today.

2130: Come home to download the days events to my wife, then twitter, then listen to a weekly podcast interview with which I was featured to discuss leadership, and then to Blog.

Lastly, today we unveiled on the site one of the latest images of the Rally Fighter - this time in its race configuration. Better known, of course, as the Rally Fighter Race Edition.

And as a bonus, the tapas that keeps my auto life interesting, additionally today I watched a video of a Tango racing a Tesla... Awesome. Both over $105K but fun to watch. Can you hear the laughing in the background at the drag strip?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Regional tastes - American Legends

At Local Motors we spend a lot of time thinking about regional tastes and fighting the powerful establishment which has sacrificed deep and varied regional taste in exchange for global consistency and the mirage of cost cutting by streamlining inventory.

When we find kindred spirits who share this commitment it is always my pleasure to showcase their position.

4 months ago Dominos Pizza announced its American Legends Pizza line based on 6 recognizable American regions and their affiliated tastes. At first, I simply thought that it was another gimmick of naming 6 new flavors, but then Dominos upped the ante by running a serious of TV spots that pit one region and its fans against those of another.

This is not so much a casual attempt to earn cheap points, it is an outright pitch to plant the maypole in the middle of each pizza party and to call out a different kind of allegiance - that of where you are from and what taste is in you.

The ad agency in charge of the creative is long-time Domino's ally Crispin Porter. I would include the embedded video here but it has not yet been released. So a description and an image will have to do. Next year, I expect to be running a similar image and writing about Local Motors' regional lineup...Stay tuned.

Honolulu Hawaiian — Sliced ham, smoked bacon, juicy pineapple, and roasted red peppers with provolone and mozzarella cheeses on a cheesy parmesan crust. Customers can make this pizza “fiery” by adding Tabasco® brand Pepper Sauce and jalapenos.

Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch(TM) — Chicken breast, white sauce, smoked bacon, tomatoes and parsley with provolone cheese and mozzarella cheeses on a cheesy provolone crust.

Pacific Veggie — Roasted red peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and black olives, with feta, mozzarella and provolone cheeses on a cheesy parmesan crust.

Memphis BBQ Chicken — Chicken breast, barbeque sauce, onions, and parsley with provolone, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses on a cheesy cheddar crust.

Buffalo Chicken — Chicken breast, Buffalo hot sauce, onions and parsley with provolone and American chesses on a cheesy cheddar crust.

Philly Cheese Steak — Steak, onions, green peppers and mushrooms with provolone and American cheeses on a cheesy provolone crust.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Great Car Fun Had this Weekend - and the Pictures to prove it

As promised, the Rogers family was to be found at the 12th Annual Factory Five Open House this weekend.

Good times were had by all. It is amazing that in this economy and in these days of automotive turmoil. Fans came, purchased gear, cavorted with friends old and new, and the spirit of real American automotive proved alive and well.

Hope you will join us at the next Burgers, Cars, and Welding (July 10 at 5pm) where we uncork this spirit every month. If you want an invite email us (contact on the website).

(Dad and the Boys getting ready for some taken by Mom)

(What we saw as we came over the hill)

(Cars everywhere)

(and people loving those cars)

(and people buying car parts to take back home and use with care)

(fun shirts)

(of course car seats so kids can ride too....this is what it is all about)

(my personal favorite paint job)

(from another angle - called "Black and Tan")

(The author's wife talking to Butch, our friend, and one of the latest Factory Five GTM builders)

(other builds)

(and long special builds)

(as seen from the rear)

(the latest FFR model on display)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back to back enthusiast weekend events - Wareham and Pocono

This coming weekend (Saturday June 13th)
Factory Five's 12th Annual Open House
9 Tow Road in Wareham, MA

Then the next weekend following (June 19-22)
Le Belle Macchine d'Italia
Skytop Lodge in Skytop, PA

In an enthusiast sense, these events are in some ways opposite ends of the spectrum (American Muscle vs. Italian Pedigree), but in a broader automotive sense, both these events embody the same spirit of a reprieve and a retreat from the humdrum of everyday "minivan" life. For those who join in Wareham or in Pocono, each of these events promises a family time of togetherness and enjoyment as the spirit of hard work, beauty, and innovation are celebrated.

I think that it is especially important to note that, even in these tough economic times, people still like to get together to retell and hail the fruits of hard labor. Building an FFR kit or refurbishing an Iso/Bizzarrini Grifo ll is each an immense undertaking, and this bond of recount and record is part of the natural associated process. This is a time for parents to bond with children and mere spectators to become loving fans and customers for life.

From the food and hospitality to the bouncey houses and races, get ready for a roaring good time.

Hope to see you there.