LM Industries, the parent company of Local Motors, has received $15 million in financing. The money will be used to advance product development, production and deployment of the 3D-printed Olli autonomous electric shuttle bus.
The money comes from the Mirai Creation Fund II, managed by the Japanese Sparx Group. To clarify, this investor has nothing to do with Toyota or its fuel cell model called the Mirai: the word simply means “future” in Japanese.
Local Motors envisions this future with simple electric cars and electric buses that can be produced locally using a 3D printer. The Olli project in question is an electric and self-propelled shuttle bus. The first version of the Olli was 30% 3D printed and was presented in 2016. A prototype was put into operation at the Euref campus in Berlin on behalf of Deutsche Bahn and in the USA in National Harbor in Washington DC.
The current version, the Olli 2.0, is up to 80% 3D printed and has been put into operation at, among others, the AZ Maria Middelares hospital in Ghent, Belgium, while the first 2.0 in the United States will be used by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority at the AV Test & Learn track at Armsdale. In July, the company announced a partnership with Beep, the Florida-based Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) provider, with plans to deploy hundreds of autonomous vehicles in the future.
The Olli 2.0 has a range of up to 160 kilometres and can reach speeds of up to 40 km/h. In addition, the new model features wheel hub motors through a cooperation with Protean Electric, while the 1.0 model was still equipped with axle motors. Earlier this year, Nora Manthey from electrive.com talked to Protean CEO Andrew Whitehead and Local Motors’ John B. Rogers about their endeavours.
“Local Motors has a unique advantage to quickly deliver impactful products that can revolutionize the automotive and mobility industry,” said Seiji Miyasaka, president of Sparx Capital Investments, Inc. a U.S. subsidiary of the Sparx Group. “At a time when the world is changing faster than ever, we’re thrilled to be working with a company that can evolve with it.” As part of the investment, Miyasaka will also receive a seat on the board of directors of Local Motors.