“Thou shall not enter the automotive industry” is the eleventh commandment for any entrepreneur. The only attractive segment of the automotive market is getaway vehicles for VCs who hear the word ‘automotive’ and need to flee the scene as hysterically as possible. Automotive is one of the most heavily regulated, capital-intensive industries, with a frustrating product cycle and a long time to market. The epitome of Japanese efficiency, Toyota, spends three to five years and billions of dollars to produce a new automobile model. This industry is not for everyone.
But Jay Rogers thinks it is. Four years ago, he founded Local Motors to make open-source cars. The company developed an online platform for crowd sourced car design and developed a unique micro-factory for rapid local manufacturing. This may be what the automotive industry needs right now: someone to take the big guys head-on. “Automotive is a really hard industry, but we are not taking on the car industry as a whole. Rather, we are taking on the problems with car manufacturing. There are so many technologies for cars, but they are not making their way to production and testing quickly enough to be integrated in actual cars. It’s that pace of technology development that seemed to be out of step with the rest of the technological world, specifically in regards to internet technology or various forms of electronics – they seem to move a lot faster. From a point of view of making a difference in the world, cars have a huge impact, together with pharmaceuticals and energy solutions.”