As the automotive industry transitions to new technology and automakers push to get ahead of the competition, shaving months, and even years off typical vehicle development time is becoming paramount.

A recent report from Automotive News suggests that the GMC Hummer EV is a model for how GM will work to develop vehicles faster into the future. GM says it will now apply its success with the upcoming Hummer EV’s development as a way to guide engineers going forward.

While GM says the Hummer EV will go on sale this quarter, it seems the automaker just revealed the electric pickup truck not long ago, and that’s essentially true. Typical vehicle development programs in the past have taken some three to four years or more. However, Hummer chief engineer Al Oppenheiser said his team pulled off the Hummer electric pickup truck in just two years.

GM’s electric delivery van project BrightDrop was able to use the same concepts and computer-aided engineering to develop its first vehicle, the EV600, in just 20 months. GM pointed out that this is a record for the company.

Oppenheiser assured that GM isn’t cutting corners with the faster development times, but rather, working smarter. The engineer, along with his team, developed the Hummer EV in a span of time that was a whopping 117 weeks shorter than typical vehicle development projects. Keep in mind, this all happened amid a pandemic, various shutdowns, a global chip shortage, and many other supply chain issues.

Essentially, GM engineers didn’t have to wait nearly a year just to get their hands on the tools needed to develop and produce the Hummer EV. Instead, the process started virtually, so the only tools needed were computers for modeling.

In a typical situation, after vehicles are developed virtually, GM builds prototypes for testing, tweaking, and crash testing. However, Oppenheiser said that all adds time. In an effort to bring the electric truck to market quickly, GM had to trust the computer data. He explained:

“We set up the ride handling, the ride character of the vehicle in a simulated environment that actually matches what happens when you build the first vehicle.”

BrightDrop has been able to hit the ground running as it follows in the Hummer EV’s footsteps. BrightDrop’s head of manufacturing Tushar Porwal added about the new approach: 

“It enabled us to get to market much faster than we would in a traditional approach. We’re that much further along in ensuring that we can have the right quality and scalability when we actually install tools in our production facility.”

Check out the Hummer EV video below and then leave us your thoughts in the comment section. Will all automakers move to quicker development processes?


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