Engineer Mike Hichme (left) and designer Stuart Norris (right): GM's design and engineering teams colocated in an effort to understand the customer's needs and choose the right technologies to support those needs.
Yes, Ann, it's ironic that the outdoorsy vehicles that seemed so much cooler than our parents' luxury cars have become luxury cars themselves. And with little time spent doing outdoorsy activities. Now the argument I hear for SUVs is that in a collision the driver and passengers are much safer in an SUV.
When it comes down to it, the SUV is just another city-based luxury car that guzzles gas.
Rob, I'm right up there at that north end along with you. So far, none of my friends have shifted to SUVs, which makes me happy, since they are such gas guzzlers. If SUVs have become the new luxury vehicles for seniors, then they're not much different from the ones our parents drove, except for some obvious differences in appearance. It's too bad that luxury vehicles, where innovation often is implemented, as Chuck points out, have to be so consistently unsustainable in terms of fuel consumption.
I agree, many of us at the north end are not interested in luxury vehicles in the older sense of those cars. But I see a lot of people my age (boomer) have shifted to SUVs over the past decade or so. SUVs seem to have become the luxury vehilces of the boomers. In weight, size and gas consumption, they exceed the luxurty vehiles of the WWII generation.
Chuck, the north end of the technology-inventing generation turned 60 recently, so although it's a small group at that end, the shift has already happened. I wonder iwhether they will want to buy luxury vehicles at all. Many of my contemporaries are not at all interested. I'm sure not.
You raise a good point, Ann. If, as you suggest, the technology-inventing generation is getting old enough to buy luxury cars, than that should be good news for the rest of us who can't afford high-end vehicles. Luxury cars are a great place for technology to start out, because it gives the automakers a chance to build up economies of scale before they offer the technology to entry-level drivers.
The automakers could stop proliferation of electronics in a heartbeat if they really wanted, but they sell cars through features and the features require more electronic control. Given the state of the automotive market, no one's going to volunteer to build a car with less features. They're so busy competing for a smaller pie that they end up offering capabilities that bring phones, music and Internet into the vehicle, even though they know these features are distracting to drivers.
In an earlier column, Chuck discussed the rampant proliferation of electronics in modern automobiles. We're soon going to be at a tipping point where it will no longer be a question of whether consumers (used to be known as drivers) will be able to restrain themselves from being distracted by all the on-board telematics/electronics/information systems. And that's not to even mention McDonalds, the kids watching DVDs in the back, and texting while talking while driving. The logical endpoint of this is either autonomous vehicles (leave the driving to us, literally speaking) or IVHS. I don't believe autonomous cars will be viable for quite a while, DARPA and Google notwithstanding. (Even if they worked reliably, there are too many liability issues.) I do believe that Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems need to be revived. A great infrastructure project -- job creation -- and a way to keep cars moving efficiently on the highway while ensuring lives are saved.
I agree with you, Radioguy, that it's sad for a common sense process to be viewed as innovative. Maybe the reson for this is that the process must be carried out very carefully, lest the engineers come back with little to show for it. The challenge is taking the feedback and converting it to design ideas and technologies and, unfortunately, that's a tricky process. Executives take a dim view view of it when such efforts don't work and engineers are too often hesitant to suggest a costly methodology that offers no guarantees.
We recently posted an online slideshow called, “18 People You Didn’t Know Were Engineers.” Within hours of its publication, readers began to suggest names of other luminaries -- astronauts, politicians, athletes and actors -- who were educated or had worked as engineers.
In yet another sign that hydrogen is creeping into the consciousness of global automotive designers, sports car maker Aston Martin plans to run a hydrogen-fueled vehicle in a 24-hour Grand Touring race later this month.
One of the ugly truths of engineering is that life has a price. Cars, buildings, power plants, and industrial machinery can always be made safer for a cost, but manufacturers are at the mercy of the market.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is