Saturday, March 29, 2008

On the Right Track

To expand a bit on Jay's post about our trip to the New York International Auto Show, not only did we see a lot of inspirational designs and equally as important - some very uninspiring designs, but we also had affirmation that we're on the right track.

Inspiring... Not so much...
If you can't read what it says in the upper left-hand corner, it reads, "Meet our new supermodels." What!!!??

The two things that were most validating were the presence of not only alternative fuel vehicles, but specifically the use of diesel power in the lineup of just about EVERY manufacturer, and seeing the Hummer Hx concept in person.

From seeing the models on the floor and talking to some reps (putting the actual engine we choose to use aside) our choice of a small but powerful V6 diesel engine is the right choice. Although one of our goals is to separate ourselves from the big manufacturers, in this case, using the same component is a good thing. It allows us a great deal of breadth in drive line componentry to choose from in the event that we run into an issue sometime in the future with something like supply issues of our engines let's say (Make no mistake - we are doing a great deal of research to prevent this, but it happens despite a great deal of forecasting beyond your control sometimes). More than that, from a marketing stance, it shows the shift in the power plant paradigm, so we are right on track to lead that shift. Many of the big manufacturers have not yet introduced their diesel engines and/or haven't made it available in their product lineup yet, but they will be within the next year or so.

As for validating our choice of an innovative design for a performance off-road vehicle, that came not only in seeing the Hummer Hx, but from standing back for a while and just observing the reactions of the people passing by. Regardless of the demographic the response was the same - resoundingly positive and full of excitement.

My initial impression upon first seeing it was how small it actually was, despite reading that it was GM's answer to the Jeep Wrangler. This wasn't a bad thing at all, but from the pictures I've seen of it, the design - everything from the big whees and tires, the aggressive fender flares, the distinctive Hummer front end - gives a much larger, more powerful feel to the Hx.

That's Dave Riha (left, about 6' tall), and Jay (right, 6' 3"-6' 4") standing next to the Hx, which is on a platform of about 6"

The other thing that I was glad to see, was their use of space to incorporate a few neat features. As I've stated in a past post, the use of dead space is excellent, but the things they've filled the space with and where they're placed is very intuitive.

In the driver door, they have a flashlight and a first aid kit - right were the driver can easily access them in a hurry, at night etc. rather than having to fumble through the rear compartment to find them.

In the passenger door is a shovel - not always critical to have quick access to, but you can still reach it from the driver side of the vehicle so it makes sense to put this in the passenger door versus the driver door, not to mention up front rather than in the rear compartment buried somewhere.

For these reasons and several more, our trip to the Auto Show was very inspiring and reaffirming. What we saw there will keep us focused on the track to manufacturing great cars in a simple but highly effective manner and avoid the complications that many larger manufacturers create for themselves to maintaining the right course.


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