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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eco-Curious: Open Source Carmaker to Build Electric Car Inspired By S.F.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Unlike the vehicles in this classic Quinn Martin production, the S.F.-inspired car LocalMotors hopes to build won't be a giant gas-guzzler that gets great air on the hills
  • Unlike the vehicles in this classic Quinn Martin production, the S.F.-inspired car LocalMotors hopes to build won't be a giant gas-guzzler that gets great air on the hills
Carmaker LocalMotors is planning to build a vehicle based on San Francisco. But here's the catch. You have to design it.

The competition--which starts today--has just three requirements: The vehicle must be electric, it must be a shooting-break design, and it must capture the spirit of our City by the Bay. Of course, there couldn't be better timing. There's been a lot of mayoral chatter lately about making San Fran the electric car capital of the United States.

The final product must be a single-engine car that goes from 0-60 in about nine seconds and will have an end-of-life battery range of 80 miles. Similar in build to a Volkswagen Scirocco, the car should be a two- (or possibly four-) passenger vehicle. And the door style needs to provide easy access but also be workable for tight parking spots or steep hills. Designers, here's a hint: rent Back to the Future.

But with a price point that's about double that of a VW, LocalMotors won't quite start the electric car revolution that Mayor Gavin Newsom is hoping for. That said, the crowdsourced vehicle provides S.F. with a lot more than just zero emissions. The car would provide local jobs. Unlike an hecho en Mexico Volkswagen, LocalMotors would build and assemble the car right here in S.F.

LocalMotors has hosted design competitions all across the country. And while it hasn't followed through and constructed every vehicle, the winning entries definitely capture their city's spirit. For example, Detroit's winner is a muscle car with some serious road-roid-rage. But do Manhattan and S.F. differ enough geographically to excuse building a whole new vehicle?

When asked about that, LocalMotors CEO Jay Rogers told SF Weekly "Yes, yes it does." He explained that while the cities share some geographical similarities, the car would differ in the same way the music scenes or sports culture does.

So what does a car inspired by San Francisco look like? I guess we'll all find out. It seems like no one in this city will cop to owning a car and yet you can never find parking. And no matter what the car turns out to be, it still won't be able to make a left turn anywhere in the city.

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Jerry James Stone

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