DETROIT — David Woessner, general manager of Local Motors in Detroit, is leading the development of an auto assembly microfactory that proposes to disrupt the auto industry at every turn, using 3-D printing to manufacture vehicles that are designed through crowd-sourcing. Woessner, 38, now faces another challenge: signing up traditional Detroit suppliers to participate. He spoke about it with Correspondent Stephanie Hernandez McGavin.
Q: How are suppliers responding to Local Motors' proposed business model?
A: We're going to make niche vehicles. And there are some suppliers who say, "Yeah, you're really interesting, and it sounds good and fun, but I don't see the volume." But some forward-thinking suppliers are very interested in seeing us.
Is low-volume production the big hurdle?
I don't know that it's a big hurdle. Some of the big traditional suppliers might not work with us because of the low volume. But that gives small local suppliers an opening to work with us. And that's something we're really interested in.
What kind of commitment does Local Motors expect from suppliers?
It's a mix of relationships. In some cases, large suppliers who have the wherewithal to support innovation are looking at us as advanced r&d. But when we get closer to production, they may say, "I don't know if we're your production supplier, but it was cool to work with you."
Has Local Motors had to adapt to supplier needs?
We try to be as open-sourced as possible, but a lot of companies have very stringent intellectual property requirements. They might not be able to share.