Local Motors, the maker of the autonomous electric shuttle Olli, will cease operations on Friday, according to several posts on LinkedIn by various employees. The company has not yet made an official announcement. The reason for the presumed shutdown of Local Motors is said to be a lack of capital.
Several US media, including Techcrunch and The Drive, have picked up on the LinkedIn posts. For example, Chris Stoner, former vice president of sales and customer success, wrote: “I am disheartened to announce that Local Motors will cease to exist as of January 14. I was only there a few months, but loved every minute of it. I made some great friends, both locally and globally, which makes it worthwhile. The autonomous vehicle space is an exciting emerging market with plenty of opportunity. Experiencing first-hand the skill and dedication of the people I worked with, I have no doubt AVs (like Olli) are the future of transportation.”
Called Olli, Local Motors developed an autonomous electric shuttle minibus that will be manufactured locally – using as many parts as possible from a 3D printer. The first version of the Olli was presented in 2016. At the time, a prototype was also on the road on behalf of Deutsche Bahn on the Euref campus in Berlin, but later Local Motors withdrew to the American market. The Olli 2.0 was unveiled in September 2019 and came with a range of up to 160 kilometres. The 2.0 model also switched from e-axle drives to wheel hub motors from Protean Electric.
As recently as June 2021, Local Motors had signed a three-year contract worth millions with Protean Electric to supply the start-up production of the Olli 2.0. Lack of orders could also be related to the Corona pandemic: Tests with the Olli 2.0 in Toronto, Canada, were interrupted because of the current health guidelines. In addition, there was an accident with an Olli 1.0 in Toronto in December in which the attendant was seriously injured.
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