Decentralizing Vehicle Design & Manufacturing

November 26, 2012 (LocalOrg) - Local Motors represents the tipping point between big-business centralized auto manufacturing and decentralized, local design, development, and fabrication. While it still conducts competitions with corporate-sponsors, the concept of the company itself is one decidedly moving away from a culture of consumerism, and one toward local production.

Here in Thailand, another company, 999 Motorsports, produces indigenous race cars which are then used in organized events and racing schools. While the company is not "crowd sourced" as Local Motors is, it is incredibly small, and represents what could be a growing trend of decentralized producers filling local niche markets in responsive ways centralized corporate monopolies cannot.

Image: A model car for a model industry? Indigenous, small business-operated car manufacturers defining their market as a province or a district might be the future of the auto-industry. Smaller companies leveraging computer-controlled manufacturing technology, and with a skilled, well-educated workforce, can easily adapt and re-purpose their means of production to fill a wide variety of niches, beyond even auto production. 

Mobius Motors sells a bare-bones utility vehicle for around $6,000 to give motorized transportation to undeveloped communities, providing another model for small scale auto production.

Video: Just in case readers are unaware of just how capable computer controlled manufacturing is, here is a computer-controlled mill, machining an engine block.


With the advent of personal manufacturing, and increasing accessibility to computer controlled manufacturing technology, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that soon provincial and even district custom car manufacturers, like Local Motors and 999 Motorsports, might spring up and displace centralized, corporate-financier monopolized operations like Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, and others. Parts suppliers and skilled labor would easily adapt to the shift. The only people put out would be the shareholders of large multinationals and the politicians whose pockets they frequently line.

However, education, and more specifically, technical education is needed for this "redistribution of wealth, via local entrepreneurship,"as well as local communities who have faith in themselves and the ability to collaborate constructively and pragmatically  - to move beyond sinks for consumerism to fill, and become sources (roughly quoting MIT's Neil Gershenfeld).