What Goes Where? From Design to Assembly Line, How a Chevrolet Is Built
How many parts do you think it takes to make the average Chevrolet? 300? 3000?
Would you believe 30,000?
It’s true — that’s how many it takes to make a Chevrolet. And how long is the process of creating a Chevy vehicle?
Not the part in the plant where the pieces and parts come together to make a Chevrolet. I’m talking about when the vehicle is first created until it hits the assembly line.
Chevrolet: Years In The Making
According to Lisa Hutchinson, Director, Chevrolet Product and Pricing, Cars and Crossovers who oversees Design and Pricing for Chevrolet, the design process has very long lead times, with research starting as much as four or five years out.
Engineering faces years of development, testing and proving the vehicle’s abilities. Then quality and testing takes three years.
It involves looking into every little detail in the vehicle, down to the smell of the leather. No kidding. Did you realize there are things you can infuse into leather to give it a different smell? Well, that’s true, so as part of its research and testing, Chevrolet sniffed out the different options, literally.
Clearly, there’s a lot that goes into automobiles beyond how the vehicle handles.
Where does Chevy get inspiration? Everywhere. Sometimes paint colors are dictated by foods. Dashboards by movie characters.
Top 5 Reasons Why Consumers Purchase Particular Vehicles:
- Exterior styling
- Fuel efficiency
How can automakers predict so many years in advance what will sell? Chevrolet utilizes focus groups, clinics, surveys and home visits to see what will work, quizzing potential buyers in the target markets on their lifestyles.
It’s all a balance between wants and needs (isn’t everything?). And if the particular vehicle needs to be fuel efficient, that may take priority over its style in the design process.
Design And Technology Follow Style Trends
Design is cited most often as the most important reason for purchase for car buyers, whether they are searching for a fun, sporty, or sexy look, or something else altogether. I know it’s my favorite factor—it’s the ‘how I feel’ in this car emotion. I don’t want to feel like a mom. I want to feel like a strong, independent woman who happens to be a mom. That definitely factors into the car buying decision for me.
The designers will create the look they want, designing the first model on paper in a 2D sketch.
From there, they’ll make a 3D miniature clay mold, shaving and carving to create the look they want. After that, a full-scale 3D clay model is created.
Pre- production models are put through extensive testing and then test fleets are created. Select employee drivers put them to the test and are required to provide feedback on the experience.
Optional colors and trims are then chosen. It can take more than five years to develop a new paint color and designers have to be able to predict and even influence what will become popular half a decade later.
In order to prove that the color will last, a sample is left exposed in south Florida for two years…at the end of that time, it must maintain 99% color accuracy to be considered for production.
Where It all Comes Together
General Motors has seven global design centers, four global research and development centers, and 12 global vehicle engineering centers. Because inspiration can literally hit anywhere, any time, and everything has to be factored in, from ergonomics and electronics to materials, and technology, a huge and important area of development for General Motors.
Click here to read all about tech trends and how they’re being developed for new cars.
Disclosure: A portion of my travel expenses were covered by Chevrolet but I was not compensated otherwise. As always, my opinion remains my own.