Ford Motor Co. builds more than 12 vehicles around the world every minute. Local Motors needed six days to build just one car during a recent demonstration in Chicago.
Both are heavily dependent on technology known as 3-D printing, which takes raw materials and forms them into objects one ultrathin layer after another. Ford uses it to build prototypes and make product testing more efficient, but Local Motors is going even further by making the chassis and body of its cars in giant, $1 million printers.
"Instead of having one manufacturing location, like Detroit or Japan, we'll have microfactories all across the world so people come in and customize their auto-buying experience," said James Earle, Local Motors' lead engineer on the project. "It allows the consumer to interact a lot more with how their car is made."