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William Maley

GM News: GM Engineers Take A Tour of the F-150 Plant For Inspiration

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When General Motors decided to study the Ford F-150 to help make the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra, they sent engineers to the front door of where the F-150 is built. 

According to Reuters, engineers went on a public factory tour of Ford's Dearborn truck plant to study how Ford was building them. Special attention was paid to workers attaching aluminum body panels to the trucks. After watching and timing the fitment of parts with stopwatches, GM engineers found some problems.

“They had a real hard time getting those doors to fit,” said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer for GM truck programs.

Focusing on the doors, engineers bought F-150 doors as parts and took them apart. What they realized is that they could cut weight in their trucks with a combination of aluminum and thinner high strength steel for a lower cost. 

GM could have gone all-aluminum with their trucks. Herrick said the debate at the company “was a really hotly contested item for us.” But at the end of the day, the decision to use mixed metals will allow for a larger profit on the trucks.

“We think we have thousands of dollars advantage (over Ford) just in the aluminum costs. It’s big,” said Herrick.

Source: Reuters


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It is always wise to learn from your competitors, especially where they fail.

Now if only GM can get the Silverado AND Sierra to outsell the F-series combined.

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Even  a Ford hater like me has to admit Ford is doing a fantastic job with the F series.

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If not for the F150, Ford might very well be a dead company now.

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22 hours ago, dfelt said:

If not for the F150, Ford might very well be a dead company now.

You mean they would have needed a bailout like their other US counterparts? 

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43 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

You mean they would have needed a bailout like their other US counterparts? 

True in both regards, if they had not been able to secure their loans when they did they would have needed a US bailout. If they did not have the F150, I am not sure they would still be here, more like Pontiac, Ford would be gone I think without their truck lineup.

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1 hour ago, ccap41 said:

You mean they would have needed a bailout like their other US counterparts? 

They needed the bailout before the crisis happened... they just did it before all the banks imploded and there was no one left to finance them.  GM was actually fine, not great, but slightly profitable, just up until the banks melted down. 

Gotta remember the timeline

1. The banks melted down

2. Credit for healthy companies dried up, this is important for financing of operations, buying inventory, etc.  Target suddenly found themselves unable to buy inventory because their primary bank was in the process of failing.  This happened to lots of companies.  GM ended up in the same situation as Target, but being so huge and with long days to cash (time from purchasing parts to getting the cash from a sale) it put them into a major cash crunch.

3. There was no where else for big, cash hungry businesses to turn but to the federal government. Banks and Automotive were saved, many others weren't. 

But before all that happened, Ford was already in trouble.   Some wiz in Finance saw the same writing on the economic wall that I did and mortgaged the entire company right up to the name on the door before the crap hit the fan.  It wasn't by some miracle of management or superior vehicle design. It all came down to reading the tea leaves before a major storm.

If anything, because of all the debt they took on, Ford is now behind their Detroit competition in many ways. They need to address that debt in order to catch up. They got their bailout... and they are still being bailed out by those giant loans they took. 

This really isn't the sign of a healthy company....

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So true, FORD is in many ways worse today as they still have a ton of Union pension debt obligation that GM and Chrysler do not have. I honestly think it would have been best for Ford to go the Route that GM did.

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Oh I know they needed cash and they took care of it. My point was just that "ford would be dead if..." Well, the whole D3 would be dead "if" not for *insert a any one of a few things here*. 

I know it wasn't some miracle of management but foreseeing a sh!tstorm and preparing for it vs not preparing for it is usually preferred. 

Ford absolutely is in a worse way today because they're paying off loans. 

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1 hour ago, ccap41 said:

Oh I know they needed cash and they took care of it. My point was just that "ford would be dead if..." Well, the whole D3 would be dead "if" not for *insert a any one of a few things here*. 

I know it wasn't some miracle of management but foreseeing a sh!tstorm and preparing for it vs not preparing for it is usually preferred. 

Ford absolutely is in a worse way today because they're paying off loans. 

I think the point that @dfelt and @A Horse With No Name are making is that the F-150 and Mustang are, until very recently, the only things holding FMC together.  I would argue that the Explorer, Edge, Navigator, and Escape, and MKC are pulling their weight as well, but otherwise largely agree with the sentiment. 

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I think these trucks are very nice though but I think even with all this tech the gains are quite incremental. Did anyone notice how to meet the efficiency standards trucks are made bigger and bigger!!

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8 hours ago, Suaviloquent said:

I think these trucks are very nice though but I think even with all this tech the gains are quite incremental. Did anyone notice how to meet the efficiency standards trucks are made bigger and bigger!!

That is because.. TA DAAAHHH... the "efficiency standards" do not obey the fundamental law of physics.  Yet the madness goes on, and when someone tries to come back to earth, the loons cry.

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