Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Systems, Cities, and Sustainable Mobility - Simplicity and Flexibility

In addition to the three principles I mentioned in my last entry regarding the success of designs/systems in relation to their sustainability, there are two other underlying factors that will guide our approach at Local Motors not to just providing a sustainable product, but to serve a bigger goal of educating consumers by example on how cars should be made and how the methods of current auto manufacturers are lacking in these areas:

Simplicity and Flexibility

The Summit at the Art Center reinforced our belief that maintaining simplicity and flexibility as core competencies will be what allows us to implement new, sustainable designs with the most success. This was evident in the admonition made by Paul Hawken (author of the ground-breaking books Blessed Unrest, Ecology of Commerce and Natural Capitalism) to executives at one of "The Big Three" after viewing the newest concept cars they had to offer. After being told that the concepts that had the most "bells and whistles", the largest passenger capacity etc. would be the cars of the future and not the simpler, more utilitarian concepts they were working on, Paul stated that they had it backwards and that the car of the future is the one that was the most simple of the vehicles in that it would be capable of meeting the demands of the user, and also be flexible during the changes in cities, systems and mobility to come in the near future.

I agree.

If you keep the design simple (yet still effective in its intended use) you also maintain its flexibility to adapt to the users needs as they change over time. Understandably, uncertainty is the biggest roadblock to sustainability. Therefore, flexibility is the key to sustainable design. By keeping your design simple, you allow yourself, or the consumer in some cases to "re-invent" it as time progresses and needs change with little interruption on the core design and the energy used to manufacture those core aspects of the vehicle.

We plan to make this possible by providing the core capabilities of what the vehicle(s) we produce will need to perform their main function at a class leading level, while maintaining flexibility by allowing the consumer to customize and repair as needed over time while reusing the core components.

More details on what the core components will be to come...

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