The Riversimple car may look a bit like a Batmobile that’s shrunk in the wash, but this tiny vehicle may well change the way cars are made in future times. It’s not just the fact that it’s a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that you can’t buy, but only lease (with fuel).
Nor even that it is aimed at car clubs rather than individuals in order to try and reduce the total number of vehicles on the road. Nope, the big thing is the company’s desire to encourage open source principles to apply to the manufacture and design of the product. Pop along to the wiki pages at 40Fires and you’ll be invited to contribute to make the whole thing a better mousetrap.
To say that we’re impressed is an understatement. The root designs are all Creative Commons licensed, although at the moment you’re not allowed to set up a commercial operation using them (in order to stop big muscle bound conglomerates taking over). They’re planning on charging a paltry $10.00 for a manufacturing license to cover costs as well. You go for it guys, this is an awesome idea, and let’s hope it really takes off in a big way.
The licensing issues are very complex (patent law is not copyright law; cars are not software) and we don’t pretend to have all the answers. It is quite possible that our license may in the end not meet the strict requirements of the Free Software Foundation. But all we really care about is that the license works to ensure that the cars can be built in hundreds of different variations around the world, by local companies and entrepreneurs as well as big multinationals if they like, and that no one company (whether Ford or Riversimple) can dominate the market and keep the ideas to itself.