Speaking at the Automotive News [sub] Manufacturing Conference, GM global manufacturing and labor relations honcho Gary Cowger (remember him?) had a “by Jove, we’ve got it!” moment that placed him in instant contention for the “Minimum” prefix recently vacated by Chrysler’s Bob Nardelli. Even the hosting publication couldn’t keep the scorn from dripping off its nut graph. “General Motors thinks it has created a method to build small vehicles profitably in North America and calls it interbuildability. Competitors know the concept as standardization.” Can you feel the love (in the air tonight)?
That’s right folks, things at GM are two-Phil-Collins-references-in-one-day bad. “One key,” of GM’s cunning plan, per AN‘s eye-rolling coverage is that “different models on the same architecture will have “plug and play” component modules, such as exhaust systems and front-end modules.” Standardization of components. Imagine that. But it’s all groundbreakery to GM, which is just introducing this “interbuildability” on global versions of Opel’s Insignia (Epsilon II). How groundbreaking? Cowger claims 29 percent savings on engineering costs. This overhaul has been under way for four years, reveals Cowger, and will be “82 percent complete by 2012.” Whatever that means. As Henry Ford used to say, they were bound to figure this (deleted) out sooner or later.
In other dynamic innovation synergy news, Cowger reveals GM may have to introduce A-class city cars in order to meet the 2016 35.5 MPG CAFE standard.