Build-Your-Own Car: New Trends in Auto Design Crowdsourcing

A growing list of car companies are mobilizing an army of inspired amateur car designers from around the world to create, share, modify and build new vehicle designs.

Commonly acknowledged as the first crowdsourced vehicle, the design of the Fiat Mio concept car was outsourced to a large group. After soliciting design input, Fiat posted entries on its project website for comment. The vehicle debuted at the 2010 Sao Paulo International Auto Show to rave reviews.

The Forge is the world’s first open-source community of car designers and fabricators. Forge’s 2,900 design community members submit designs and choose the best for development. As development proceeds, community members submit ideas for the subsystems and components of the vehicle. Those who have their designs chosen receive monetary prizes.

The company’s first vehicle to reach production, the Rally Fighter, is designed for off-road and desert racing as well as street use. Close to 100 vehicles have been purchased or ordered at a cost of about $75,000. Buyers can assemble their own vehicle in a few days under the guidance of experts.

Shell GameChanger, is another example of crowdsourcing vehicle design. GameChanger invests in early-stage energy-saving ideas, producing vehicles that can be used in one of five chosen locations: Sao Paolo, Basra, Bangalore, Amsterdam and Houston. The vehicle designs use locally sourced energy and materials and help address social challenges faced by these locations.

The public vote in this competition will help determine a winner for each region, and Shell GameChanger will choose a grand winner to receive $5,000.

One of the coolest designs – the “I AM GO” design is for residents of Amsterdam who are famously averse to cars and love their bicycles. It provides the look and feel and maneuverability of a bicycle along with the cargo-carrying capacity of an auto. The electric-powered vehicle is 160 cm (62 inches) long, 160 cm high and 60 cm (24 inches) wide. It carries two passengers in traditional bicycle position and has considerable cargo capacity on its roof.

Another designer says: “Even in this eco-friendly world, there will always be the die-hard hot rod enthusiasts.” The GXV12 E-Rod eco-friendly hot-rod is designed for Houston – with a fuel-injected, super-charged ethanol-fueled V-12 internal combustion engine. The two-passenger vehicle comes with optional trailers that carry two, four or six more people.

And the StreetScooter electric vehicle, a favorite of this blog, was co-developed by 50 small car design firms, each with an equal stake and input in the final product. The prototype was developed in one year compared to ten that are typically required for a new model. The StreetScooter is already in use by delivery companies and is planned to go on sale to the German public in 2013.

More on StreetScooter:

The concept of crowdsourcing the design of consumer products is catching on. Do you think the crowdsourcing business model is viable for mainstream auto companies?

Related Articles:

Photo courtesy of StreetScooter

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2 thoughts on “Build-Your-Own Car: New Trends in Auto Design Crowdsourcing”

  1. Seth W says:

    Don’t forget about Nissan’s Project 370z, an attempt to use fans from the Nissan Performance Facebook page to crowdsource a limited-run performance vehicle. As of right now, the design process is completed, and the car will be unveiled at this year’s ZDayZ.

    Blog post I made about it a month ago:

  2. Andy Li says:

    I think crowdsourcing is viable for pretty much any company. It is cheap, effective (typically), and builds community along the way. People love to get their hands on projects in which they’re passionate and why shouldn’t businesses tap into that? It is intriguing and I’m excited to see the future of this business model.

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