BigPontiac

The Teardown Artists

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BigPontiac    28

The Teardown Artists

First, buy the hottest new car on the lot. Then rip it to pieces. Inside GM's chop shop, they take (apart) the competition very seriously.

By Carl Hoffman

A silver Lexus RX 400h hybrid SUV is suspended on a lift in a room the size of a soccer field at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. It was purchased off the lot just a few days ago for $49,000, loaded, which seems a waste, since it's already a carcass. Mechanic John Klucka has removed its tires and engine and doors and seats and dashboard and, well, just about everything but a few wires and the windshield. "This is a complicated vehicle," he says, unbolting the engine from its frame, "and I've got no manual, so I'm taking it apart blind."

Within a few weeks, GM engineers will unravel the Lexus' every secret - down to the weight and production cost of each nut and bolt - just as they've done with every other Toyota hybrid model. The latest Prius lies in on a table in the corner, gutted, tagged, and spread out like a frog in a high school biology lab.

Article continued

Full URL: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.02/teardown.html

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Guest Josh   
Guest Josh

That is an awesome article. Sorry, but I'm a dork when it comes to things like this.

GM also does off-site teardowns of their pre-production vehicles and some vehicles first produced off the assembly line to make sure everything is as fit, snug, and in the right place.

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Flybrian    0

This is a fantastic article I read in the library a week or so ago. The part about Toyota's intentions with the Prius is interesting, too.

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Petra    0

Neat stuff, but it leads me to question: Is GM learning from these chops how to build cars as good as the competiton, or are they learning to build cars better than the competiton?

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Newbiewar    1

Neat stuff, but it leads me to question: Is GM learning from these chops how to build cars as good as the competiton, or are they learning to build cars better than the competiton?

this is a good question...

JD power an associats seems to think they are starting to make em better...

but thats only the premium brands... we need cadillac's quality in Chevrolet and we'll be in great shape...

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BigPontiac    28

I think GM should buy some of their own products that are 5-10 years old, and then do a teardown.

There was a piece on GM's Fastlane blog last year about them tearing down a couple year old Silverado with 460,000mi on it...so, they may to a limited extent.

Fastlane article

Full URL: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/archives/2005/...w_miles_on.html

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zbad1    0

I love how the critics say GM should try to go with hybrids, instead of pursue fuel cells. DONT WANT GM TO GET TOO ADVANCED AND BE BETTER THAN TOYOTA!!!

I agree. These hybrids seem like a pretty pathetic bandaids for the real problem. Fuel cell technology should really change the world. I hope GM gets the big score with this technology.

Edited by zbad1

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Guest Josh   
Guest Josh

Yea that's it. Not that there is little to no infrastructure to support fuel cell cars.  :rolleyes:

Definitely a cool article. I met a guy at NAIAS who does tear downs for one of the big 3.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Just like nobody knew of hybrids some 4 years ago, just look at them now. You don't need infastructure if you know what you're doing, and by the time you need it for repairs you can put a battery pack twice as long in the vehicles.

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Awesome!  Didn't Toyota do the same with the first Taurus?

Could be..the mid '90s ('92-96?) 4dr Camry looked quite a bit like the original Taurus, IMHO..

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I agree. These hybrids seem like a pretty pathetic bandaids for the real problem. Fuel cell technology should really change the world. I hope GM gets the big score with this technology.

Riiight...fuel cells are still a pipe dream...at least 25 years or more away from being practical, both as far as the cars and the infrastructure.

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razoredge    0

If you want to sell hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, you need to have hydrogen filling stations. That's the infastructure that HAS to be in place. So far there are a few dozen hydrogen fueling stations in the WHOLE nation. Half of them in California.

If you want fuel cell cars (from ANY auto maker) to sell on the level that hybrids are now, you're going to need a ton more hydrogen fueling stations. Home fueling stations would be a good start, but that would cost more for the consumer....and, of course, people travel. Filling stations at dealers might work too, Im not sure how hard it would be to convince the dealers to spend the money on it. Youd still have the travel problem though. You're going to need to be able to drive down I-75 and see "Hydrogen fueling station," every so often on those exit signs.

Until they bust a move and begin to get this infrastructure in place its a stalemate. I dont think every corner had a seven11 before they decided to release the gasoline automobile.

In the mean time to me it seems foolish to spend fortunes on "hybrid" R&D. A gasoline engine to generate electricity to power an electric motor, that uses more fuel per mile than a VW diesel did 25 years ago. That is not progress.

This word "hybrid" is appearing to be little more than a publicity stunt.

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zbad1    0

Riiight...fuel cells are still a pipe dream...at least 25 years or more away from being practical, both as far as the cars and the infrastructure.

The interenet was a 'pipe dream' 25 years ago. That doesn't change the fact that the net and fuel cell technology has/will change the world.

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The interenet was a 'pipe dream' 25 years ago. That doesn't change the fact that the net and fuel cell technology has/will change the world.

Actually, the internet was around 25 years ago..actually, 35 years ago. It was only used by government agencies, defence contractors, and universities. No WWW then...just ftp, telnet, etc. :)

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The hybrid seems like a reasonable approach for now as it can be built with existing technology and doesn't require changes in usage patterns or infrastructure. There is a gas mileage increase, but more importantly (the point which everyone seems to miss) is that they are cleaner..

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Angry Dad    0

The hybrid seems like a reasonable approach for now as it can be built with existing technology and doesn't require changes in usage patterns or infrastructure. There is a gas mileage increase, but more importantly (the point which everyone seems to miss) is that they are cleaner..

There are trade offs. Starting and stopping any internal combustion engine requires lighting the converter. Or retaining a lot of heat in the converter. Sure there are no emissions while the engine is off but the start of the cycle in any converter equipped engine is where the "dirty" emissions lay.

There is a future for this style of drive system. It requires a lot of changes to te entire vehicle. But if the goal is to reduce oil consumption, it is by no means the best way to do so quickly. E85 vehicles are in production, on the roads in very large numbers and it has been done at a reasonable cost. I've heard that going E85 costs less than $200 to build. On the other hand, going hybrid is very expensive. I cannot see how Toyota builds a Prius system for less than $3000. It is probally a great deal more and service costs are still excessive with built in obsolesence. I totally agree with Carlos Goshen when he says that the hype behind hybrid is doing more damage than good. And I fully understand why Nissan makes no effort to build any of these vehicles. He's simply expoiting the advantage of being the smaller corporation. He knows he had none of the market for hybrid and he isn't losing anything. Let the big companies play the PR game and engineer the first batch of failures. Then learn from their mistakes.

But back to saving an economy from manipulation from foriegn producers of oil. I do not understand why a concerted intelligent effort has not been implemented to "get on the schine" about building ethanol production facilities. It must go back to who we vote for. They don't really care about what's good for us, they just care about what keeps them elected.

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