bigpoppanils Posted January 5 Report Share Posted January 5 13:19:43 Jan. 05, 2004)2004 Detroit: GM developed architecture just for SolsticeBy DAVE GUILFORD | Automotive News GM broke development rules to create the Solstice. To build the Pontiac Solstice two-seater, General Motors created a rear-wheel-drive, small-car architecture called Kappa. And to do that, says Lori Queen, vehicle line executive for small cars, GM "blew up the entire vehicle-development process." Queen's team: Scrapped the traditional "alpha build" of a rough "mule" vehicle, testing ride and handling by computer simulation. Used many components from other GM vehicles, eliminating validation time. Used new hydroform stamping, cutting tooling costs and time. Kappa was scheduled to debut at the Detroit show Sunday, Jan. 4, with the 2006 production Solstice plus two concepts, the Chevrolet Nomad sporty wagon and Saturn Curve. GM needed to produce Kappa quickly to capitalize on the buzz created when Vice Chairman Robert Lutz drove a Solstice concept onstage at the 2002 Detroit show. Striking as it was, the concept was far from production-ready. It was a rwd car jimmied onto GM's Delta front-wheel-drive platform. "We needed a small, flexible, rwd architecture," Queen says. "We knew that a modified Delta was not going to work for the production car." There was another hurdle. Lutz wanted the car to attract young buyers and mandated a sticker price of $20,000, if not less. GM has not set the sticker for the Solstice, but Lutz says it will be close to the target. Hitting cost objectives took discipline and the ability to say no, he says. "People said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to have a power top?' Yes. 'Oh, let's have a power top.' No. 'Wouldn't it be nice to have power windows?' Yes, of course it would. But you're not going to get them. At all of those junctures, you have to be able to say no." Analyst Jim Hall of AutoPacific in Southfield, Mich., says Lutz had to hit the price target or lose young buyers. "It's going to be 100 percent price-dependent," Hall says. "If it's even a little too expensive, it's going to be a tough sell." The frugal development process offered some advantages. The new stamping technique, which uses one die along with high-pressure water, allows much deeper stampings. Anne Asensio, executive director of advanced vehicle design, says designers exploited the capability to create the deep clamshell hood on the Saturn Curve. "We think this technology will enable very unique shapes that design always wanted to do, but that manufacturing has struggled to do," Asensio says. Mark Hogan, group vice president for advanced vehicle development, says GM expects Kappa to be profitable at a volume "north of 100,000 units" when other vehicles join the Solstice. "It's a challenge," Hogan says. "But working all the pieces of the equation - the capital piece, the engineering piece, the material-cost piece - we're going to make money at that volume." Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.