Thursday, August 20, 2009

GM's Design Lab: Maybe Too Little, Way Too Late

From the "billions too little, decades too late" archives, GM has decided to open up a public-facing "design lab" so that the public can look under the hood at their design process, according to Mediabistro's Steve Delahoyde.

This could have been a great way to offer the buying public some transparency into all the planning and costs built into the price tag of your favorite Chevy, GMC Truck or Buick, had it come earlier. We've been well-versed for years in the role that union health care costs (as an example) play in causing the Big 3 to lose money on every vehicle, but the role that design and marketing costs play has been glossed over until far too recently.

So this effort to show how such breathtaking models as the Buick Century come to fruition smells a bit of an attempt to persuade buyers that the design process at GM is as lean and collaborative as it would be at the supposedly imminent generation of small, independent automakers (of which, only two - Tesla and Fisker - come to mind. But there is hope in the Progressive Automotive X-Prize, as Joseph White of the WSJ reported in April, spurring such small-team innovation.)

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