In Defense of the Old Industrialists
12:29 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
In this month's Wired, Chris Anderson launches another of his counter-intuitive, techno-supremacy arguments: That we are on the verge of another American industrial revolution, only this time it will be carried out in micro-scale by DIY entrepreneurs. I like Anderson a ton--he's one of those guys who's worth reading even when he's wrong. But he begins this new piece with an über-example of the new DIY industrialists that's grating in its self-satisfaction. Anderson discovers a car company in Massachusetts called Local Motors which designs and sells really nifty cars. Their flagship is a vehicle called the Rally Fighter, which looks like the car Darth Vader would drive on Pandora. It's designed by a volunteer, open-source community and it is, without a doubt, awesome. It's also $50,000 and Local Motors has sold 63 of them. Or, more to the point, Local Motors has pre-sold the option to buy 63 of them. This is Anderson's New Industrialism.
In the course of puffing up Local Motors, Anderson takes a bunch of cheap shots at Detroit, such as:
Which puts me in mind of a quote from GM's Bob Lutz. Discussing the Tesla electric sports car and its ambitions to "change the face of the automotive industry," Lutz dryly noted: