Friday, December 4, 2009

The Fate of Pontiac

As we continue to gear up for production of the Rally Fighter, the exact reasons why GM had to slash the Pontiac Brand are the very same reasons upon which the Rally Fighter and all subsequent Local Motors vehicles are built. This is best summarized by a statement from GM's Head of Sales Operations in the U.S. in an MSNBC article about the final days of Pontiac,

Despite the pain of the shutdown, "it will pay off in the long run,” said Susan Docherty, head of U.S. sales operations for GM.

"This will let us focus our limited resources where they’ll serve us best,” Docherty added. She acknowledged that the once-seemingly omnipotent General Motors simply couldn’t keep spending billions to develop so many different products for so many different brands, and then invest the additional money needed to market them.

One of the final 2010 Pontiac G6 sedans moves down the line at General Motors Orion assembly plant last week in Michigan. The production marked the end of the line for the venerable Pontiac nameplate (

Over spending on development of multiple (and unnecessary) products, then spending exorbitant sums of money to market them are largely avoided through listening to our community of designers, engineers, and consumers from the earliest stages of vehicle development to develop only the vehicles of the utmost desire, using as many existing components off the shelf across multiple platforms; then executing sales and marketing through the channels of that community, branching out to the outer limits by simply being as visible as possible in local car enthusiast communities both in the virtual and physical worlds.

The death of such an iconic brand is an avoidable one had the voice of the muscle car community surrounding the Pontiac brand that started in the 1960's and 1970's around such legendary cars like the GTO and the Firebird been allowed to truly guide the brand responsible for "building excitement." Sure, there were many factors driving the "end" of the Muscle Car Era, but that spirit could have not only lived on, but been well executed in the forms of other vehicles consumers would feel connected to, and as a result prevent the death of such an icon in automotive history.

It's these types of lessons learned from our automotive manufacturing counterparts that the engineering team here at Local Motors will strive to keep at the forefront of our minds as we deliver exciting vehicles to the underserved car loving communities of the world such that we don't suffer a similar fate.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Making a List and Checking it Twice

We might not be Santa Claus here at Local Motors, but we're taking a page out of his book this December.

Since the Rally Fighter prototype is returning from a long roadtrip (it left on the truck to SEMA the last week of October) later this week, then going back on the road for another couple months starting in January, we've got to make the best of our limited amount of time. Therefore, were taking this time to compile two lists:

1. What needs to be done to get the prototype ready for a full battery of off road testing and what is necessary to make it street legal,

2. What needs to be changed/added based on that for our June production launch date.

For those of you itching to see the transformation from Mihai's Interior Competition winner, it will most likely be a few more months before items like the dash and the center console are crafted to the original design Mihai so skillfully designed. The reason behind this is simple - we have one month with the actual protoype in the shop to redesign, modify and test certain things critical to the performance, safety and manufacturability of the Rally Fighter that simply CANNOT be done without the car here. Namely, we will be making modifications to the steering, finishing the wheel wells, adding seat belts, making adjustments to the shock locations, tuning the suspension etc.

Also, some of the modifications made as a result of such modification and eventual testing can affect the volumes within which Mihai's design are executed, so we will need to make those modifications (keeping his design in mind), then adapt the dash, center console etc. to the chassis and subframe. This design work will then continue in 3D CAD while the car is back on the road. Soon after it returns from it's next trip, the roles will be reversed, and the focus will be on building the first article of the dash, center console etc. maintaining the intent of Mihai's vision as close to the original as possible.