A car’s journey, from concept to showroom
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 email@example.com or go to tada.ca. Larry Lantz is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is a new-car dealer in Hanover, ON.