Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2010 (Revised September 2011)

Local Motors: Designed by the Crowd, Built by the Customer

by Michael I. Norton and Jeremy Dann

Abstract

In the wake of the meltdown among U.S. auto manufacturers in 2009, Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, has a new approach for the automotive industry: decide which models are produced through online design competitions, and then allow customers to "build their own cars" from the winning designs. The case focuses on two key issues: Can Local Motors build a thriving online design community at a reasonable cost? And can customers be convinced to add their own sweat and labor to the manufacturing process? The case is written from the perspective of a start-up company seeking funding while trying to implement a novel business concept.

Keywords: Business Startups; Customer Focus and Relationships; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Product Design; Product Development; Creativity; Social and Collaborative Networks; Customization and Personalization; Auto Industry; Manufacturing Industry; United States;

Citation:

Norton, Michael I., and Jeremy Dann. "Local Motors: Designed by the Crowd, Built by the Customer." Harvard Business School Case 510-062, February 2010. (Revised September 2011.)