DETROIT—As General Motors engineers develop the auto maker's next generation of vehicles, they'll look to the upcoming GMC Hummer EV to guide them.
The development timeline for the electric pickup, scheduled to go on sale this quarter, was just two years, compared with three to four years for most vehicle programs, said Al Oppenheiser, the Hummer's chief engineer.
The speedy timeline, enabled by computer-aided engineering, helped BrightDrop, GM's electric delivery van business, set a company record of only 20 months to develop its first product, the EV600.
The Hummer assignment for Oppenheimer and his team was 117 weeks shorter than a typical GM program, he said. But instead of cutting corners, he wanted to work smarter.
Despite challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the global microchip shortage and other supply chain disruptions, the Hummer team hit the mark.
Engineers often wait up to 11 months to get the tools they need to build a vehicle—almost half the total development time the Hummer team was allotted. GMC relied on heavy simulation through computer-aided engineering to get the truck to the market quickly.
Traditionally, engineers would use computer modeling and then build prototypes that they would break and crash for testing. They would make necessary design changes and build more prototypes to test again.
"That all takes time," said Oppenheiser. For the Hummer, he and his team had to trust the data. "We made a company decision to rely on our analysis tools," he said.