Build COOL Cars With Local Motors | CoCreation and Social Product Development


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Rally Fighter at Local MotorsLocal Motors is a new car company. They are in the business of Creation, Development, Modification and Sales of cars. They have developed an open source way to make C.O.O.L cars. COOL is their acronym for Community, Open Source, Owner Experiences and Local.

“Co-creation was essential to beginning the business,” says CEO John (Jay) Rogers. In the car industry, there is a a big disconnect between what we sell to customers (cars) and what they are getting. In an iterative process, its something that could be solved much faster. When you don’t engage with the customer as part of the product development process it will never be iterative. We started a business that engages with customers in a process we call co-creation, where the customer co-creates with the business in order to be able to come up with ideas quickly. That process generates a large set of differentiated ideas. As part of our process, this community of people who are informed when solving a problem gives us a greater chance of solving a problem and developing individual solutions.”

To put this in a nutshell, Local Motors has a “build a bear” concept for cars that is fast and nimble delivering an ownership experience for the car enthusiast that is second to none in the industry.

The PDMA Co-create Conference
The recent Product Development and Management Association held a Co-create: Social Product Development Conference in Phoenix, Arizona which is the site for the first micro factory for Local Motors. One full-day was spent at the Local Motors facility during the conference with a number of panel presentation on the Value of Experience, Creating Big Things, Maker Movement and Customer Interactions. Companies speaking included Ross School of Business, LEGO, Crispin Porter (Dominos), Local Motors, InnoCentive, Harvard Business School, Wired Magazine, Threadless, MakerBot Industries, Ponoko, MESH01, and Quirk. We were able to tour the facility and better appreciate the process that Local Motors owners go through when they buy and build their own car.

Local Motors is C.O.O.L.

I had a chance to interview Ariel Ferreira, Community Evangelist and Public Relations Manager, while at the conference. She explained the COOL acronym for me in the following interview.

Community: The community is the micro factory. The community is the owners who come in and build their own car. The Local Motors product development community can join the online community and contribute to design, mechanics, etc. They contribute ideas and may be the ones who’s ideas get voted up and moved along.

Open Source: Virtual resources are the members of the community, along with staff of Local Motors. From the very beginning the process is open. Everyone contributes designs which are protected by creative commons license, The enthusiasm of the community continues with voting on the best ideas and collaborating to make it better…and what they want. All the chassis information, body details and data is shared back to the community. This iterative process continues to allow the community to make improvements or modifications for another build or the next design. This also creates a parts marketplace as well, especially for modification on existing cars.

Ownership Experiences – The owners come to the micro factory for 6 days and work with the team to build their car. There are individual build bays that have sets of tools, team leaders help to schedule and guide the owners, but its the owners who are putting in the sweat equity into the car. Local Motors has learned from experience what the process needs to be to make this both a personal experience and a proper quality process so testing occurs each step of the way.

Local:The current car design, The Rally Fighter, is specific to Arizona and this local micro factory but they have plans to expand to other “local” areas across the country and build cars that suit those local areas as well. With a limited production of 2000 over the life of the car, more designs will come up for the different areas. In the works are electric cars for the southwest and east coast urban areas like Boston.


Ariel Ferreira, Local Motors Image by Wendy Soucie

According to Ariel Ferreira,

“I love watching this [social product development] community develop and get better at what they do. These decision makers and thought leaders are at the cutting edge of what is new, cool and popular. They are telling us that this is what they want. The concepts that they are telling us they want are things that would take a larger industry 6-10 years to develop. We understand things very quickly and can react.”

What do you think of Local Motors’ co-creation process? Can you share other companies building products with Co-Creation and social product development?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Wendy Soucie
Wendy Soucie provides clients a unique perspective on social business strategy across an organization. Wendy applies and follows specific social media strategy and methodologies for assessments, network growth, contribution, participation and execution. She is a certified social media strategist, Social Media Academy (Palo Alto, CA). She is an accomplished trainer and keynote personality speaker.


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