Product Development: Now More Than Ever
The product development challenge—that is, creating products, be they at the component, assembly, system, process, or some other type or level—is one that is certainly germane to the auto industry. Arguably it is more relevant—and important—today than it has been for some time.
The reasons are simple:
- The industry is undergoing a transformation that is taking it from a monotechnology-based one—meaning the internal combustion engine—to heterogeneity, including various types of hybrids and electric powertrains.
- The industry has undergone a downsizing and reorganization the likes of which hasn’t been experienced in the lifetimes of those who still work in it. One could make the case that the only time in relatively recent history that a change of this scale occurred was during World War II, when many of the workers left the factories to go to war, the factories switched over production to military goods, and vast numbers of women joined the workforce.
- The level of competition is increasing from companies like Hyundai and Kia, and it is expected to be ratcheted up even more in a few years with Chinese OEMs in the U.S. market.
- So, you want to survive? Well, you’d better have superlative product development capabilities.
If you want to get a concentrated dose of the tech and the concepts, then block out May 11-13, 2010, on your calendar and plan to attend PDx/amerimold, which is being held in Cincinnati, an event that will combine a tradeshow, tech conference, networking, and a heavy emphasis on getting products to market faster. You can check it out at pdx-amerimold.com.
Paul Spadafora, chief engineer, Cadillac XT5, had, in his estimation, a fantastic opportunity as he and his team set about to develop Cadillac’s all-new midsize crossover vehicle for a number of reasons, one of which is the simple fact that this is one of the hottest segments going in the auto industry, so if you want to be in the game, you have to play hard against the likes of the Audi Q5 and the Mercedes GLE-Class.
From the point of view of structural engineering and assembly, electric vehicles are a whole lot simpler than those with internal combustion engines, which probably goes a long way to explain why there are so many startups showing EVs.
I'm not talking about a plastic Revell model of a '57 Chevy, but a real vehicle, one that rolls off an assembly line in 1999 with another 99,999 just like it right behind. Is it possible, or is this just a fantasy of the marketing department at Elmer's?