Arizona-based Local Motors made history when it unveiled the world’s first 3D printed car in September 2014 at the IMTS show in Chicago.
The company, founded in 2007, showcased the vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show where it explained why printed cars could become the future of manufacturing.
Here, the company’s CFO Jean Paul Capin speaks exclusively to One More Second about what we can expect from the 3D printed car and when we will be seeing it on our roads.
Can you tell us about the experience of buying a 3D car?
Buying a 3D car will be a different type of purchase to what you would expect when buying a regular car. We are still working on the exact buying model and whether or not it will be available direct to the customer. One thing is for sure: there will be a lot more customization than you get with a regular car. We are looking at four different types of finishes – carbon fiber, which is the matt color we have now; a wax surface which can be painted in any color you choose; vinyl wrapping and also a customizable wrap which can be designed by the customer.
Will buyers be able to get their 3D car covered by auto insurance?
Of course. A 3D car will have a regular car registration and a 17-digit VIN number, the same as any other car – and can be covered by insurance in the same way as a regular car.
What features can we expect to find in a 3D car?
There will be a lot more features than you get on most cars with a great deal of technology that other car makers haven’t yet brought to market.
This will include some autonomous features and also charging features – we are working hard with partners in that field. The luxury of the 3D printed car is that you can go from printing one type of vehicle to another with very little cost so certain models can be printed differently to others with ease.
How will owners of 3D cars get their vehicle serviced and maintained?
We are currently working on a network of micro factories across the US. We are staggering areas initially so that cars can be serviced across the country. We are also working on arrangements with other servicing companies across the US so these companies can service 3D cars and ensure the warranties remain valid. We want to offer convenience to customers which will come through using third party providers.
And what about repairs?
One of the key advantages of 3D cars is that it is easy to bolt on different components so fixing a 3D car will actually be easier than repairing a standard car as you can just reprint a new piece! The body and chassis can be recycled so if the vehicle gets damaged we can salvage the material, recycle it and print a replacement part. It is really important that repairing the cars is simple as that will keep insurance costs down for owners.
How safe will 3D cars be?
The 3D vehicle is going to be just as safe as any other car or safer. Local Motors is currently working on having the car tested to meet all federal safety and crash worthiness standards in the United States and has plans to crash test and certify the 3D-printed car by EuroNCAP in the future.
What will be the top speed?
It will be highway ready so 120mph is our target.
Will 3D cars be suitable for families?
Definitely! The 3D car will be a functional car which can seat at least four people.
You are initially targeting the US market but do you have plans to take the 3D car to other markets?
Absolutely. We are starting with the US which has very strict criteria for crash standards. Our initial market is one of the most competitive in the world so once we have that platform we will take it to other parts of the developed world, and the developing world. The nature of the printed car will enable us to easily tailor the vehicle to the markets and modify it as needed to suit the regulations of each market.
How much can we expect to pay for a 3D car?
We haven’t finalized the pricing but we are aiming for the price range to be between $25,000 – 35,000 USD.
When can we expect to be seeing 3D cars on the road?
You will see 3D printed cars on the road in the United States sometime between November 2016 and January 2017.
Will you be driving one?
Definitely! I want to own and drive in the car of the future.