Even in Tough Times, Innovation Flourishes

JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, a story about innovation in the auto industry, even in these tough economic times. NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden has our Science Unit report.

TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour correspondent: It was not your typical Friday evening summer barbecue. This one was staged by a brand-new car company, and offered a welding demonstration and door prizes for a standing-room-only crowd of car enthusiasts.

Local Motors, located in a Wareham, Massachusetts, industrial park, believes it can succeed in an industry that has already consigned carmaker John DeLorean and brands like Studebaker and Oldsmobile to the ash heap of history.

The company says it has a unique approach to designing automobiles that starts with the corporate Web site. Anyone can submit drawings of cars designed for use in specific parts of the country. Other participants on the site then vote on their favorite designs, and the eventual winner gets a cash prize.

JAY ROGERS, chief executive officer, Local Motors: What are the primary colors of Local Motors' business?

TOM BEARDEN: Jay Rogers, who went to school in mechanical engineering, to Iraq as a Marine, and to Harvard for an MBA, is the CEO and founder of Local Motors.

JAY ROGERS: We integrate with the community before any car is even chosen. And what we do is we go to the community and we say, "Here's an idea: We've talked to customers who also come to our Web site, part of our community, that say I want a car for the Pacific Northwest, I want a car for desert, you know, living in San Diego, Phoenix, Mexico, that kind of thing. I'd like a car for south Florida.

TOM BEARDEN: How many cars can you make in a place like this?

JAY ROGERS: You can make, with 60 gentlemen, about 1,200 chasses.

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