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October 20, 2015 | Tom Ballard

Jay Rogers shares his innovative ideas at “Southern Automotive Conference”

SAC Made in the South

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Jay Rogers is arguably one of the most innovative individuals in the transportation industry today, and he brought his message about Local Motors’ disruptive approach in a keynote address at the “Southern Automotive Conference” (SAC) that concluded yesterday in Nashville.

More than 1,000 individuals from Original Equipment Manufacturers, automotive suppliers, research enterprises, universities, and economic development organizations attended the two-day event.

Against slides showing hundreds of vehicles piled high in a junkyard and an abandoned automotive plant on Bellevue Avenue in Detroit, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the start-up said simply, “We fix this, we fix everything.”

Underpinning Rogers’ measured delivery style are strong philosophical beliefs about environmental and societal issues such as sustainability in all aspects of the manufacturing process.

“Our GDP (automotive is a $2 trillion enterprise) is a pretty poor way to judge the health of the economy for our children,” he told the attendees, noting that important factors like air quality and commuting times are not components of the Gross Domestic Product calculations.

Local Motors, which utilizes additive manufacturing to 3D-print automobiles and other transportation vehicles, is powered by co-creation, a cousin of crowdfunding only for ideas rather than dollars, and micro-factories.

The company will soon open its newest micro-factory in a building still under construction on the west side of Pellissippi Parkway near Hardin Valley Road.

“We’re 25 days from taking delivery of the facility,” Rogers said on Monday.

When it starts making 3D-printed vehicles, the cars will range in price from a low of $12,000 to a high of $53,750.

The start-up has only 120 employees, but Rogers expects to have 15 to 20 micro-factories around the country and many more around the world as it grows. These facilities will give real meaning to the company’s name.

“We’ll look a lot less like the flag inside your passport and more like where you live and work,” Rogers said, adding three repetitions of the word “local” to underscore the point of customization to the needs of a region.

He said that traditional automobiles have 2,000 parts, but Local Motors’ vehicles will have about 50.

Rogers has some high expectations for Local Motors and the automotive industry. In regards to the latter, he says it needs a 25 times faster turn of technology adoption than currently exists. As far as his company, he wants it to reduce the number of hours required to totally print a car and all of its components from 40 to 10.

How does he describe Locals Motors?

“We’re like Ikea (that) meets Ferrari (that) meets the Toyota production floor.” That’s a pretty innovative description for a company focused on disrupting an industry.

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