developing OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics (OVD). OVD turned out to be a virtual godsend for GM because it enabled test engineers to pull diagnostic codes via e-mail to fix potential warranty problems before they happened.
“The invention turned into a form of warranty protection,” Oesterling told us. “We fix the problems that might not have been caught otherwise, and we avoid the warranty costs.”
GM is hoping that Oesterling’s knack for being on the cutting edge is going to repeat itself at Maven. Maven is seen as a major corporate building block for the company because it enables GM to get into the so-called “car sharing” end of the business. In car sharing, subscribers go to a location, access a vehicle, drive off, and drop it elsewhere. Oesterling’s role is to help develop a personalized mobility technology platform – an embedded car-sharing module that resides inside the vehicle and communicates to a customer’s mobile phone via Bluetooth low energy. “It gives the user the ability to access the vehicle, unlock it and start it,” Oesterling said.
The move to Maven may once again may make Oesterling a key part of GM’s future. GM execs have big plans for Maven because they see it, not only as a way to tap into the fledgling vehicle-sharing trend, but as way to build a foundation for autonomous driving. Autonomy, they say, will be a key part of car sharing, and vice versa.
Oesterling, meanwhile, sees his role in Maven as a chance to impact the quality of life for a new subset of GM customers. “It improves peoples’ lives,” he said. “It gives them the freedom to do things they might have done otherwise because they don’t own a car.”
So while Oesterling’s transformation from video games designer to one of GM’s most valued engineers may seem initially improbable, it all makes perfect sense to him.“Those were very exciting times,” he said, recalling his gaming efforts of the 1980s. “They influenced my whole engineering career.”
VW Engineer Spearheads Regionalization Effort
Matthias Erb is tailoring Volkswagen’s American vehicles for American consumers.
Volkswagen engineer Matthias Erb: “Our goal is to capture the minds of the market.” (Source: Volkswagen AG)
When Volkswagen Group rolled out its seven-seat, Atlas sport utility vehicle late last year, American auto publications were enamored.
“Atlas is just more in every direction,” wrote Road & Track , “and that’s a quality the American market seems to be appreciating a lot.” Similarly, Motor Trend noted that the Atlas had “a more muscular look compared to the frumpy curves found in most competitors.”
Why the praise? Volkswagen would like to think it stems directly from an unhidden engineering bid to make its U.S. cars … well, more American.
“If you’re looking to make cars that have the look and feel of the region, then the last 30-40% of the car’s value has to be developed in that region,” Matthias Erb, executive vice president for the company’s new North American Engineering and Planning Center, told Design News . “So we’re starting to bring more