Monday, March 10, 2008

When Going Modular Goes Wrong...

I read a report today that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is conducting an investigation into a reported brake problem with GM's Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice. More specifically, the performance grade versions, the Red Line and GXP, respectively.


Why do both cars have the same problem you ask?

The cars share the same brake control unit and turbocharged 2.0L engine among other components/systems.

This is where designing for modularity can cause headaches for a manufacturer, particularly one that is already in trouble for numerous reasons, and now two (instead of one) of what are supposed to be some of their premier, top performing packages have their street cred being run through the mud. Not a good thing for any product line, but especially for a performance package where the owners are more than likely pushing the car to its limits on a regular basis and expect the performance to be on demand, especially the brakes!

Being able to maneuver cars such as these at good amounts of speed around tight corners and along the straightaway gives the driver a great feeling, but certainly not when you hit the brakes and they aren't there like you'd expect them to be. I don't care if it's one of these 260 hp two-seaters or the 1000+ hp Bugatti Veyron - you've gotta have brakes!


Something we'll have to bring some help in on for sure when it comes time to navigate the bureaucracy in Federalization of the Local Motors vehicles, so we don't run into this. Surely things like this affect the brand strength of juggernauts like GM, so for a small volume start-up manufacturer like Local Motors, it could be brand suicide.

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