When crowd-sourced automotive design pioneer Local Motors unveiled its 3D-printed, self-driving Olli shuttle, it indicated that the vehicle was designed for campuses, municipalities, airports and other users of low-speed mass transit.
However, purchasing the highly customizable shuttles outright could be a challenge for some of those target customers. With that in mind, Local Motors has announced financing of the vehicles through a new set of partnerships.
The company has teamed with Florida-based Elite Transportation Services (ETS, a subsidiary of Elite Parking Services) and Texas-based Xcelerate. Customers will be able to finance the purchase of Olli vehicles for up to 84 months via the agreement with Xcelerate, which will offer up to $20 million in Olli vehicle financing.
ETs will provide an all-inclusive Olli operational solution, including routine maintenance, warranty service, insurance, monitoring, management, operations and other services. ETS will also offer up to $1 billion in financing for customers using the service.
Local Motors printed the first Olli in 2016, and it is believed to be the first 3D-printed transit vehicle. The Olli can also be customized to meet specific customer requirements.
By 3D printing the vehicles on demand, Local Motors claims it has reduced tooling costs by 50 percent and overall production times by up to 90 percent. The vehicle also leverages artificial intelligence technology via IBM’s Watson platform.
The Olli has a top speed of 25mph and is operated via an app. Passengers can set pick-up and drop-off locations and pay fares electronically. The vehicle also includes speech recognition capabilities, so that it can talk to passengers.
The University of Buffalo already purchased an Olli with funds from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Researchers there plan to use the 12-passenger bus to test autonomous driving on campus roads. Ohio State University is also interested in purchasing one, according to a recent article.
Deutsche Bahn in Germany launched an Olli pilot at the Euref Campus in Berlin, and one Olli was placed into service in Washington, D.C., in 2016 as part of an initial test/demonstration of the technology.
Source: Local Motors