chores. “It’s been enlightening,” Farah said. “When we put the first cars out there, they worked okay, not great. But they’ve been getting better and better.”
Ultimately, GM’s plan is to deliver autonomy to its vehicles, but not until the company’s engineers are convinced that it’s universally safer than human driving. For Farah, such goals are a far cry from his days as a data processing technician. But because an autonomous car is essentially a computer on wheels, there’s an element of consistency to it, he says. “It’s about my two favorite passions – cars and computers,” he said. “I guess I always figured this is where I’d end up.”
Answering the Call for a Better Body
FCA body engineer Matthew Genord spearheaded a manufacturing change that brought a unique look to the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles engineer Matthew Genord helped changed the minivan sliding door assembly process, thus producing a unique new look for the 2017 Pacifica. (Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)
Sometimes, change can be difficult.
But when a product manufacturer invests $2 billion in a new product, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles did with the 2017 Pacifica minivan, change can be necessary, even when it’s uncomfortable.
That’s where Matthew Genord came in. Genord, a longtime body engineer for Chrysler, spearheaded a manufacturing change that brought a new look to the Pacifica. His solution, a two-piece hinge that led to a better way to assemble the vehicle’s sliding doors, gave designers the freedom to replace the utilitarian look of the common minivan with an SUV-type of stylishness. By most accounts – both inside and outside the company – the new look has been a hit.
Still, factory floor metamorphisis is no simple task, especially when you’re replacing a tried-and-true method that’s worked reliably for decades. “Over years of experience, you get caught in a comfort zone and you don’t want to change,” Genord told Design News . “You have to change the mindset to: ‘Yeah, we can do it another way.’”
The key to the new mindset was Genord’s two-piece hinge. Unlike previous sliding door hinges, which resided only on the door, the new hinge was split – part of it on the door and part on the vehicle’s body. The upshot was simpler assembly. Instead of factory floor assemblers loading the door from the rear, the door could now be loaded from the side. That, in turn, meant that the body’s sliding door track could be shorter, thus freeing up space for designers to work their magic.
Even so, it wasn’t a slam dunk. Many in the company, understandably concerned about changing an established methodology, balked. “We were concerned with a lot of issues,” Genord said. “Could we do it? Was there enough time on the line to load the doors that way? So we did some mock-ups and simulations to ensure it could be done.”
When the mock-ups and simulations proved it would work, designers went back to studio, changing the lines in the clay models to produce a new look for the Pacifica. The