Friday, November 11, 2011

Siemens and Local Motors Team Up

It is 8:01am CST.  By now, you have had one minute to digest the press releases from Local Motors and Siemens regarding their cooperation to create a CAD tool suited to the car enthusiast.  I mentioned a bit about it in my last post when I talked about the Open House at Local Motors here in the Phoenix Metro area.  Here are some of the more juicy details.

About Local Motors
Local Motors (LM), under the vision and direction of its CEO and Co-founder Jay Rogers, has the desire to allow the community of car enthusiasts to go a step beyond after market products and do-it-yourself component upgrades to allow them to design their own niche vehicle.  Niche vehicle is the key phrase.  A niche vehicle, to paraphrase Jay, is something that a certain certain group of people want or need in a specific geographic region.  To make that happen, Jay has a vision that allows the community to collaborate, or in LM and Siemens terms to allow cocreation (because cocreate would just be weird to say), a specific vehicle that fulfills the local niche.  For example, people in Arizona would love a desert race vehicle to take out to the Dunes that is street legal so they don't have to trailer a 20 mpg gallon vehicle behind a 16 mpg vehicle just to have a little off-road fun.  Thus, the Rally Fighter was born.  (Although if it had a 4 wheel drive option that I could take rock crawling with my Jeep buddies -- now there's a vehicle I could invest in!)

In order to take LM to the next step, the community needed a design tool that capable of designing and assembling an automobile - from piece part welded tubes and brackets, to body panels, and windshield wipers.  Yet, the tool had to be simple to use and affordable enough for the DIY or enthusiast gear head.  Not only that, but the tool had to be "universal."  In other words, it had to be able to read whatever file format individuals of the community uploaded to the LM website and to be able to manipulate that geometry.  With a remarkable partnership with Siemens, Solid Edge Design 1 was born.

About Siemens
To be honest, Siemens wasn't the only CAD vendor that LM approached to  help them move to the next level in their vision.  As a matter of fact, LM first tried to work out a partnership with Dassault who helped them with the DOD vehicle.  LM approached as many CAD vendors as it could to propose building a tool suitable for its community.  But, as it turns out, Siemens was the only CAD vendor willing to take the chance on such a new and, I'll say it, revolutionary kind of car company.  Behold, Solid Edge Design 1 was born.

Solid Edge Design 1
What's so special about Solid Edge Design 1?  First of all, it's not NX Design 1 which is what most people would think is needed for automotive design.  Second of all, it is a full-enough featured version of Solid Edge Synchronous Technology so any individual can design an automobile: Synchronous Part and Synchronous Assembly.  Just as important, Solid Edge Design 1 is rented monthly for the cost of a dinner at Applebee's through the LM community website.

Finally, there is a robust CAD package that is priced at a range that makes it available to the masses.  Alibre tried it and did a great job, but this is one step further.  No initial high cost outlay.  No yearly maintenance fee.  This is as about as pay-as-you-go as we have ever seen in the CAD world, made available under EULA for every enthusiast out there at an affordable price.

Conclusion (for now)
These are exciting times we live in.  This, in my opinion, truly is a game changer.  On the one hand, we have the maker market exploding who are all trying to find an affordable geometry creation engine in order to continue to make.  Now they have it.  On the other hand, we have a new kind of car company showing the world that it doesn't take a company "too big to fail" to put together a really sweet ride.  I am excited to be in the middle of all of it.  I can't wait to see how the competition reacts to this news.  I can't wait to see how the market reacts.

There is so much more to talk about regarding the details of the cooperation between Siemens and the vision of Local Motors.  It has to be broken up into many posts and I fully intend to cover my opinion of it as much as possible: the new LM website (it's on so many steroids it may even be illegal by MLB) and the growing community for one; the two steps that actually go into sharing design data online: web-based geometry visualization and Solid Edge Design 1 geometry creation; the vision and growth model of LM; just to name a few.  I'm almost speechless from being overwhelmed with the potential of this cooperation.  See now why I said Jay has a really high "smartness level"? 

I know several other people also reporting on this news so keep your eyes and ears sharp.  I'll provide updates and links as time permits.  In the meantime, strap on your seat belts and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Local Motors Open House

The Global Product Data Interoperability Summit (GPDIS) keynote speeches finished early yesterday so I had the distinct pleasure of being able to attend the Local Motors open house.  WOW!  What a company and what a car.

If you haven't heard about Local Motors, they are a new kind of car company focused on the car enthusiast.  They believe that there is a better way to design and build an automobile than the ways developed by GM, Toyota, Ford, etc.  The vision this company has is extraordinary and it is led by their CEO and Co-founder, Jay Rogers.  One thing I got out of the Open House is that Jay is one smart fellow.  I created this infographic to illustrate Jay's smartness.
Not only is the leadership of Local Motors in the hands of an incredible visionary, but it is supported by a very dedicated group of a people who are equally enthusiastic about cars and the new way to design a car.  And something that is a sure sign of the success or failure of a new venture, Jay was supported by his wife and children who were in attendance at the Open House.  Jay is getting support from all directions; there is no way this venture can fail.

The purpose of the Open House was to announce a change coming on 11/11/11.  Jay was pretty secretive about the announcement other than it is going to be big and revolutionary.  This is the type of announcement that will shake up the industry much like the announcement of Local Motors designing a car using crowd-sourcing shook up the industry.  But, with a selection of big name Siemens representatives like Mark Burhop, Susan Cinadr, Carlos Beato, and Kurt Pennington (the number 1 Solid Edge demo guy) and the fact that they were demoing Solid Edge during the Open House, I can only speculate that the announcement has something to do with Solid Edge more than a new electric vehicle being developed by the Local Motors community.  As a matter of fact, Jay spoke about how the Local Motors community has grown and now it is time to get more tools into the hands of the community.  I'm guessing he means design or visualization tools.  And in his words, quoted again by Mark Burhop, design tools for the cost of a dinner.  Neither Jay nor Mark would go into details if the cost was a McDonald's dinner, an Applebee's dinner, or a 5-star dinner, but either way that is a price point that will definitely shake up the industry.  Which one? Automotive or CAD?

Local Motors already has two successful vehicles under their belt: the Rally Fighter and the vehicle developed for the DOD.  They are now working towards an electric vehicle.  You can see the Top Gear video of the Rally Fighter here.

Watch the Local Motors website and the Siemens website for the press releases describing the official announcement.  I know I'm interested in what the big news is going to be.  In the meantime, I get another tour tonight with my local chapters of ASME and NSPE.  Maybe I can coerce Jay into a corner and find out more.

Some interesting links.