Local Motors, the company behind the first car to ever be openly developed and built using crowd-sourcing, is dead.
There have been no official releases on the company’s closure, but Chris Stoner, Local Motors former VP of sales and customer success, posted the news on his LinkedIn page.
“I am disheartened to announce that Local Motors will cease to exist as of January 14. I was only there a few months, but loved every minute of it. I made some great friends, both locally and globally, which makes it worthwhile. The autonomous vehicle space is an exciting emerging market with plenty of opportunity. Experiencing first-hand the skill and dedication of the people I worked with, I have no doubt AVs (like Olli) are the future of transportation.”
The Drive reports that the decision to shut down Local Motors comes from a lack of funding, making it impossible for the company to carry on.
Local Motors is most known for the Rally Fighter – the first-ever crowd-sourced “creative commons”-like car. It was the culmination of 35,000 designs by 2,900 people in over 100 countries. We once said it may be the coolest-looking car ever.
It was – in essence – a kit car that happened to be equipped with a 6.2-liter LS V8 from General Motors. It’s assembly was completed by buyers with help from Local Motors employees at one of the company’s micro-factories. The car made such a big splash in the automotive space that it was featured in the Fast and Furious franchise as well as a few Forza video games.
When the Rally Fighter ended production in 2016, Local Motors did not follow it up with a traditional successor. Instead, the company pivoted to building an autonomous pod called the “Olli.” Instead of being an off-road monster powered by an LS engine, the Olli was a low-speed, self-driving pod that could travel about 60 miles on a charge. It was 3D-printed, which is cool if you’re into that sort of thing. The Olli was eventually replaced with the Olli 2.0.
These vehicles were not without their issues. In December 2020, an Olli 1.0 ran into a tree in Ontario – critically injuring the driving attendant inside.
The Drive reports that Local Motors closure has nothing to do with the crash. Testing of the Olli 2.0 was paused because of the accident and “current public health guidance regarding COVID-19, according to Toronto’s website about the Olli 2.0 trial.
It’s still not clear if the Olli program will continue past Local Motors’ closure, but one thing is clear. This is a big loss of a once-promising brand for the automotive industry.