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One Hong Kong-based start-up wants to help accelerate the disruption.
OSVehicle will on Tuesday launch its latest “do-it-yourself car” — an electric four-seater that it says can be built in little over an hour from parts shipped in flatpacks from Italy and China.
The kit is aimed at companies that want to sell electric vehicles or run car sharing schemes, with would-be carmakers buying a platform from OSVehicle rather than a complete product.
They order the chassis, electric power-train, suspension, steering system and wheels from OSVehicle. Customers then create the bodywork to their own design.
“It lowers the barriers to entry for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to create vehicles in a whole new segment of the industry,” said Carlo De Micheli, head of innovation at OSVehicle.
The kit car platform is based on another by OSVehicle that is a two-seater called Tabby.
The company has yet to decide on the price of the four-seater platform. The two-seater iteration of its Tabby platform retailed at $4,000, excluding the lithium-based battery pack.
The “OS” in OSVehicle stands for open source and the company is part of a growing trend of transparent innovation in the industry.
Tesla, for instance, made all its patents public a year ago, partly in an attempt to fuel the creation of electric vehicles and create a bigger market for its premium zero-emission saloons. Other, mainstream carmakers such as Ford and Toyota have followed.
“Companies that are entering this market are focusing on specific technologies, such as self-driving or high power electric vehicles,” said Mr De Micheli.
“We are eager to see all the open source components that come out of their research …adopted by other companies worldwide.”
OSVehicle launched its first model in 2013 and has partners in Modena, the Italian home of sports carmakers Ferrari and Maserati.
Current projects based on OSVehicle’s Tabby platform include city cars, a luxury electric vehicle, and a concept car made of engineered wood.
OSVehicle’s platform seeks to address several failings of the industry — namely, the slow proliferation of electric vehicles — while capitalising on some of the other mega-trends shaping transport, such as the growth of car sharing.
The concept of a DIY car is not new, having been around since the early days of the car.
But these tend to be one-offs made by sports car enthusiasts, while OSVehicle is aiming for the mass market.
One of the earliest applications of the four-seater version from OSVehicle will be in Bordeaux, where the Aquitaine region is working on a rental vehicle aimed at tourists.