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Posts Tagged ‘gm product development’

GM Will Halve Its Platform, Engine Count

Saving could top $1 billion annually.

by on Aug.10, 2011

New GM car czar Mary Barra.

General Motors plans to slash by half the number of underlying platforms it uses worldwide by 2018, while ordering a similar reduction in the number of engine variants in its line-up, the maker says.

It’s all part of an effort to reduce costs by as much as $1 billion annually, according to GM CEO Dan Akerson, who says the maker wastes far much time, effort – and money – on projects that either get canceled or which could share their basics with other GM programs.

“We’d be deep — halfway, two-thirds of the way through – on a project and we’d cancel it due to a weakening economy,” said the former Navy officer, who took the helm at GM early last year.  “The start-stop, on-again-off-again, herky-jerky nature of our product development process was very disruptive and it produced poor results.”

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Indeed, it has meant that many vehicles come out late and then don’t live up to customer expectations, added GM’s new product development czar Mary Barra.

“We end up being second, third, or at the back of the pack,” she said.


GM Moving Up Launch of 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Maker racing to speed up product launches.

by on Apr.12, 2011

Chevrolet offers a hint of the 2013 Malibu.

General Motors will roll its next-generation Chevrolet Malibu into dealer showrooms four months earlier than previously planned – part of a full-court press to speed up the company’s product development program.

Production of the new midsize model, which will be sold as a 2013 model, is set to begin in January 2012, rather than May, as originally scheduled, according to an internal GM document quoted by the Detroit News.

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The move to speed up product development has been spearheaded by GM CEO Dan Akerson who, earlier this year, warned that the company could be left short of new models due to the delays created by its 2009 bankruptcy.

The U.S., Akerson warned, was going to be particularly hard hit.  Product development programs for emerging markets, notably including China, had felt less of an impact from the maker’s run through Chapter 11.


GM’s Reuss Puts New Products Through the “Knothole”

“Good enough” isn’t good enough anymore.

by on Jan.31, 2011

GM President Mark Reuss: squeezing new products through a knothole to banish mediocrity.

“Good enough” isn’t good enough if General Motors hopes to win back sales and market share, says Mark Reuss, president of the maker’s core North American operations.

So, he says, every new car, truck or crossover will have to pass through a rigid evaluation procedure Reuss has created dubbed the “Knothole Process” — even if that means some models will wind up being yanked from the line-up.

“We’re not going to put cars into our portfolio if they are just competitive,” said the long-time engineer, during an exclusive interview with  Why, he asks, would a loyal Toyota or Honda customer even consider a GM vehicle if the U.S. maker can’t offer something significantly better?

The Knothole Process has already resulted in a number of GM products being delayed or killed off entirely, Reuss revealed.  It was the primary reason why the launch of the U.S. version of the Chevrolet Cruze was delayed – though GM’s bankruptcy also was a factor, said Reuss – and led to the maker deciding not to sell the Chevy Orlando crossover in the North American market.

In its original form, said Reuss, Cruze “wasn’t something anybody would be proud of.”

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At least two other products have been scrubbed because they failed to pass muster, Reuss hinted, declining to name the models.  Others have also been delayed.

The Knothole Process was inspired by former GM “car czar” Bob Lutz, who spent his decade with the giant maker struggling to refocus its product development operations.  One of the steps Lutz took was to bring in a handful of former automotive journalists, such as one-time Motor Trend Editor Jack Keebler, to give the company a less biased view of how General Motors products compare to key competitors.


Yet Another GM Shake-Up: Stephens Named Global Tech Chief

Mary Barra chosen as new product czar.

by on Jan.20, 2011

Another reason to celebrate? Newly-promoted Tom Stephens shown here last week with the Car of the Year trophy for Chevy Volt.

In ballpark lingo, it helps to have a scorecard to keep up with the players, as General Motors continues to shake up its top management ranks.

Just days after ousting the head of OnStar and realigning its marketing management team, GM has appointed product development chief Tom Stephens its new Chief Technology Officer, a job that will have the veteran exec overseeing everything from in-car infotainment to advanced battery propulsion systems.

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To fill Stephens old role, GM is appointing its first-ever woman “car czar.”  As global vice president of product development, Mary Barra will oversee design, engineering, program management – and, critically, quality improvement efforts – for the automaker’s 11 worldwide brands.