Local Motors has no boundaries when it comes to vehicle design. Nothing but nothing will stop them from pursuing a goal. I’ve seen it for myself during their Open House events at the Chandler, Arizona facility (you know, the one with a big-ass jump off to the side that they use to demonstrate the robustness of their legendary Rally Fighter.) They’ve been at it again, this time working on 3D-printing the body for a sporty track-style car in the vein of the Ariel Atom and the KTM X-bow. Except it isn’t.
Let’s break down the basics: the engine is an electric drivetrain from a Renault Twizy, which is a car that looks roughly like a hollow egg standing on a cart. Not a pretty picture. So, in great form, the concept of 3D printing the car was chosen as a reasonably cheaper and exceptionally faster method of creating a new body for the car. Using thermoplastic pellets that have carbon fiber woven in, the body takes about 44 hours to print, uses forty parts from the Twizy and is expected to be on sale within months, with a marketing strategy focusing on areas where “neighborhood cars” could work. Given that the Twizy’s top speed is about 40 mph and it’s range tops at 120 miles, neighborhoods is probably the best thing for it.
The part that makes this interesting is that other than the mechanical bits, the car can be chopped up and recycled like any other plastic item. While a more substantive drivetrain would be beneficial (given it’s light weight, how about a Miata drivetrain), the adaptation should be fairly straightforward. If the technology works (and the first Strati, which was on display in Chicago a few days ago, does) then there is a chance that Local Motors can spread out into different sections. The last thing I knew they were working on was recycling late-1990s Honda Civic drivetrains into a RWD two-seat auto crossing monster, so be sure to watch how Local Motors progresses with this.