A car’s jour­ney, from con­cept to show­room

The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS.CA -

By the time a new ve­hi­cle is de­liv­ered to a new car show­room, all daz­zling and ready for a test drive, it has un­der­gone a lengthy and elab­o­rate jour­ney.

Al­though the process of de­sign­ing, en­gi­neer­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and launch­ing a new model can take up to 10 years, the av­er­age car KPVSOFZ UBLFT CFUXFFO UXP BOE lWF

years, de­pend­ing on whether or not it’s built on an ex­ist­ing chas­sis and pow­er­train. 5IF lSTU QIBTF JT UIF JEFB JUTFMG

This in­cludes mar­ket re­search and anal­y­sis, iden­ti­fy­ing the ve­hi­cle’s DBUFHPSZ XIFSF JU XJMM lU JOUP UIF au­tomaker’s ex­ist­ing lineup), po­ten­tial mar­ket (where it will be sold), com­peti­tors, fuel econ­omy, pow­er­train, sales goals, fund­ing and pric­ing.

An au­tomaker may cre­ate a model that es­tab­lishes a new seg­ment or it may add to an ex­ist­ing seg­ment with a num­ber of per­for­mance and safety en­hance­ments.

Once a con­cept is given the green light, the de­sign phase be­gins. This in­volves de­vel­op­ing sketches for the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior, in­clud­ing se­lect­ing a theme, colours, in­te­rior trim ma­te­ri­als and wind-tun­nel assess­ment. This process of­ten in­volves teams of tech­ni­cal and de­sign spe­cial­ists in dif­fer­ent coun­tries who share in­for­ma­tion.

Af­ter sev­eral months, de­sign­ers will cre­ate clay mod­els and re­view en­gi­neer­ing com­po­nents care­fully, af­ter which a de­sign is cho­sen and the pro­to­typ­ing starts. In the past decade, how­ever, au­tomak­ers have moved away from pro­to­types in favour of dig­i­tal sim­u­la­tion meth­ods, which are less ex­pen­sive and time­con­sum­ing.

Then an ac­tual con­cept ve­hi­cle is pro­duced for man­age­ment and en­gi­neer­ing re­views, and for pos­si­ble un­veil­ing at auto shows.

Au­tomak­ers present con­cepts at auto shows to mea­sure re­sponse from con­sumers and jour­nal­ists, and that feed­back is taken se­ri­ously.

If a con­cept is green-lighted, it ad­vances to the en­gi­neer­ing phase. This phase en­com­passes ev­ery com­po­nent of a ve­hi­cle from bumper to bumper: com­puter-aided en­gi­neer­ing, body de­sign and de­vel­op­ment, pow­er­train, chas­sis, in­fo­tain­ment, seat­ing, light­ing sys­tems, fuel-econ­omy stud­ies, com­po­nent cost anal­y­sis, and col­lab­o­ra­tions with sup­pli­ers.

Vir­tu­ally ev­ery nut, bolt and com­po­nent is re­viewed, tested and eval­u­ated be­fore the ve­hi­cle moves onto the all-im­por­tant man­u­fac­tur­ing phase.

Ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques and teams of skilled work­ers are part of an in­cred­i­ble process that will cre­ate ve­hi­cles with thou­sands of work­ing parts.

When a new model is ready to be man­u­fac­tured, the au­to­mo­tive press VTVBMMZ IBT BO JEFB PG XIBU UIF lOJTIFE QSPEVDU XJMM MPPL MJLF "VUPNBLers will re­lease teaser pho­tos and press re­leases ahead of the man­u­fac­tur­ing phase to build ex­cite­ment in the me­dia and among po­ten­tial buy­ers. The man­u­fac­tur­ing phase in­cludes build­ing or mod­i­fy­ing pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties, co-or­di­nat­ing the tool de­sign, col­lab­o­rat­ing with sup­pli­ers (in EJGGFSFOU DPVOUSJFT DPOlSNJOH UIBU UIF WFIJDMF NFFUT QFSGPSNBODF UBSgets and train­ing a skilled work­force. The ac­tual as­sem­bly of a mass-pro­duced au­to­mo­bile (stamp­ing, weld­ing, paint­ing, as­sem­bly and in­spec­tions, etc.) can take be­tween 15 and 35 IPVST GSPN TUBSU UP lOJTI BOE NPEFSO BTTFNCMZ MJOFT QSPEVDF CFUXFFO 50 and 100 ve­hi­cles per hour.

The re­al­ity of au­to­mo­tive pro­duc­tion is that a model is man­u­fac­tured in one coun­try, and many of the com­po­nents are im­ported from other coun­tries. The com­pleted mod­els are then shipped to mar­kets that have been JEFOUJlFE CZ UIF BVUPNBLFS

Man­u­fac­tur­ers also cre­ate train­ing cour­ses for deal­er­ship sales and ser­vice de­part­ments so that they are ready to sell and ser­vice the new ve­hi­cles. 5IF lOBM QIBTF PG UIF KPVSOFZ JT UIF PGlDJBM MBVODI 5IJT DBO UBLF FJHIU

to 12 months and in­volves mar­ket re­search, se­lect­ing a price point, in­tro­duc­ing the model to dealer net­works, plan­ning how and when the ve­hi­cle will be de­liv­ered to deal­ers, cre­at­ing pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als (press re­leases, videos, ad cam­paigns) and un­veil­ings at auto shows.

The next time you’re view­ing new mod­els in a show­room, you will have a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the fas­ci­nat­ing jour­ney that they have taken to ar­rive there.

This col­umn rep­re­sents the views and val­ues of the TADA. Write to pres­i­dent@tada.ca or go to tada.ca. Larry Lantz is pres­i­dent of the Tril­lium Au­to­mo­bile Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and is a new-car dealer in Hanover, ON.

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