The Renault POM represents the first foray by a big automaker into truly open-sourcing its vehicle platform.
Renault has developed an open-source automotive platform for a compact and lightweight electric vehicle, based on its existing Twizy EV, which could enable those wanting to build their own electric vehicle company to jumpstart the process. In partnership with OSVehicle and ARM, Groupe Renault will release its POM platform to the world as the "first open-source mass market vehicle platform," which will allow third parties to both copy and modify the existing hardware and software to create their own version of a totally customizable EV.
Although OSVehicle already has an open-source vehicle platform available - the TABBY EVO - which is the basis of the Busy Bee (the first open-source road-legal city car built on it), this new partnership marks the first time a big automaker is open-sourcing its EV platform, and could be the start of a whole new breed of electric vehicle innovation. A platform isn't a finished vehicle, and isn't road-legal on its own, but is rather the core systems around which a complete vehicle is built.
"A car platform is a vehicle’s core architecture, comprised of shared design, engineering, and system of components that make up the mechanical heart of any given car and make it move. It is the most expensive and difficult component to develop, often taking years in R&D time and several million dollars. It’s also the most shared component of the car, and their manufacturing lifespan could be upwards of 50 years." - OSVehicle
According to OSVehicle, the company's mission is "to democratize mobility by enabling businesses and startups to design, prototype, and build custom electric vehicles and transportation services," and was launched because the founders were "Tired of an aging industry, not sustainable, slow, with little innovation, too complicated and closed."
The details of the forthcoming POM platform from Renault are sparse at the moment, other than the basic specs (rear engine, rear-wheel drive, 6.1 kWh lithium-ion battery, 100km/62-mile range, and two 'speed' options - 45 km/h (28 mph) and 80 km/h (50 mph)), but this short video illustrates the OSVehicle TABBY EVO platform:
"We want to enable a market made of infinite niches, products and services in the transportation industry. We will do this thanks to community based, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable manufacturing, marketing and distribution processes." - OSVehicle
For a bit longer presentation on what OSVehicle is all about, this pitch from the Rockstart Accelerator, and this presentation at Next Berlin 2014, will illuminate you on what a future of sustainable and distributed open-source vehicle manufacturing might look like. No pricing has been announced yet for the Renault POM, but the TABBY EVO can be had for somewhere in the range of $12,480–$19,980, and is said to be "really simple" to assemble - taking less than an hour to put together.