Designing Vehicles in Collaborative Mode

Since 2009, Local Motors, an Arizona-based automaker, has encouraged its customers to build their own vehicles based on winning designs from competitions launched on the company’s website. It is one of the oldest and arguably more successful examples of crowdsourcing.

Local Motors started by setting up a community, called The Forge in order to design vehicles. Anyone, professionals and amateurs alike, provided they are over 15 years of age, can join. At the present time, the community has 15,000 members with a variety of profiles, including designers and engineers. Relying mainly on its partnerships with software vendors such as Solid Edge and Ponoko, the automaker supplies the graphic tools for working on the model in 3D and encourages its members to design cars.

Local Motors runs several competitions simultaneously. Some relate to the look of the vehicle, others to the engineering. The timeframe for each – from one day to two months – depends on the complexity of the challenge. The selection process and the reward obtained by the winners will also vary accordingly.

Once the ideas have been generated, the community is asked to vote, or in some cases the ideas are submitted to a selected panel. It’s at this point that customers get involved. They can vote on the ideas, give their opinion, and comment on the proposals. Once the winning ideas have been selected, the vehicle can be built.

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