Most of us can’t afford to shell out the money for a new car every time we see a flashy ride that catches our eye. Imagine a world, though, where the body of your old car could be melted down and rebuilt into something entirely different within a matter of days. What if your car was 100% recyclable? That world may not be so far away. Built by Local Motors of Phoenix, Arizona, the “Strati” is the world’s 3-D printed car that’s road-ready within 44 hours.
The 3-D Experience
Step inside the 3-D printer that literally “squirted” to life the Strati, and you’ll see nozzles spraying melted, Lego-like plastic into the shape of a dune buggy. The frame and body are printed from carbon-reinforced thermoplastic, but the suspension, seats, lighting, and electric engine are all assembled separately. The car’s body can hardly be called “smooth;” untouched by human hands, the body looks like the popcorn ceiling of an older home. The ridged edges give the black body a grainy, pixelated look, though reporters note that the structure of the car doesn’t feel weak or hollow.
Even so, the roadster wouldn’t receive any Top Safety Awards. The Strati has no seatbelts, airbags, roof, or side windows. Topping out at 40-50 mph, the 6.1 kWh battery can go 62-120 miles on a single charge. If you want to go farther, you’ll need to wait about 3.5 hours for the battery to fully recharge. You wouldn’t want to take the Strati on a long road trip, but how about a quick trek to the grocery store?
How the 3-D Car Could Change the Auto Industry
Today’s average vehicle is constructed of thousands of parts, whereas the Strati consists of around 50 pieces. The plastic material and sheer simplicity of the car’s design makes manufacturing it much easier than a traditional vehicle. Because of the speed at which it can be built and assembled, in the future the Strati could potentially be cheaper than a conventional car.
Jay Rogers, the CEO of Local Motors, envisions a future where drivers can swap out their 3-D printed cars like they do smartphones. Though the Strati is still in development stages, the company expects it to sell for around $18,000.
Without the standard safety measures of a conventional car, it is unclear how a 3-D printed car would be evaluated by car insurance companies. Car insurance companies are already wrestling with the coming onslaught of cars that can park themselves, drive themselves, and wake up dozing drivers, but what about a car that could potentially change its appearance overnight? A car’s appearance doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with how insurance companies calculate the car’s premium, but insurance companies may look at a combination of a vehicle’s characteristics, like its safety features, engine type, and transmission, to determine rates based on its records of similar vehicles.
There is a detailed set of factors that may influence a car’s insurance rates, including the car’s age, weight, style, history, and everyday use. Weighing in at about 1,800 pounds, how would the Strati’s weight affect its insurance rate? We’re not so sure, but we know we’re excited to see how this technology could change the automotive industry.
If you could recycle and remake your car, how would you change it up? Would you feel safe in a “printed” car? Let us know below!