The question asked in the title of this article, Fab Labs Or Gigafactories? Or Both? might be a bit of a weird one, as it’s obviously not simply one or the other but rather a spectrum of solutions with these two at opposing ends. Still, a useful framing since there is the possibility, through innovative forms of organizations and licensing, to make complex products locally instead of making them exclusively in large factories.
Dr. Paul Wildman makes the argument for cosmolocalisation — global design produced locally in fab labs, not gigafactories. He talks of the need for respecting the humanising influence of craft, where peer works with peer for the development of their own humanity and the salvation of the planet. […]
The fab lab movement is closely aligned with the DIY movement, open-source hardware, peer-to-peer craft-based maker culture, and the free and open-source movement. It shares philosophy as well as technology with them.
Which is one of the tenants not only of the Fab Labs movements but also of Fab Cities; global connection and local action. While vehicles built on combustion engine platforms would be very hard to open source and build locally, the much simpler platforms of electric vehicles can relatively easily be done at much smaller scales (batteries likely being the exception).
Open Motors is building and marketing the Tabby Evo. It is presented as a vehicle built with the craft philosophy in mind — free to use and share with open source for those interested.
Would it make sense to build cars at the scale of a city’s needs? This writer would venture a guess that it’s doubtful. But would it make sense for a co-op or a transit authority to maintain a fleet of shared or even autonomous electric vehicles locally with a majority or even all parts manufactured locally? Definitely plausible.
This, by the way, is a lens readers might consider when it comes to autonomous vehicles: replacing individual cars with autonomous individual cars won’t change that much to so many cities’ congestion problems. Fleets of those same cars (vans and mini-buses, actually) operated for sharing, and integrated with modes of public transport? That also seems very plausible and even desirable.
Image: Open Motors EDIT EV.