result was that the traditional rectangular rear side windows were reshaped to trapezoidal, giving the vehicle a look of motion, even when it was standing still. In short, the minivan now looked more like an SUV.
|The rear side of the 2017 Pacifica sports a distinctive, SUV-type appearance. (Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)|
For Genord, the change was a natural evolution, based in large part on a career’s worth of work in minivans, both as an engineer and consumer. Starting in the automotive industry straight out of high school and earning his B.S. in engineering from Lawrence Technological University over eight years at night, Genord had always been deeply involved in body engineering and manufacturing. He participated in the launch of four previous minivans, had worked in a stamping plant, and had done dimensional control of vehicle bodies. Moreover, as a father of six children, he had owned minivans for close to 25 years, at times drawing on his experience as an owner to bring innovations to Chrysler’s products. “My role as an owner gave me the ability to bring the perspective of an engineer to my family’s vehicles,” he said.
In the end, his two-piece hinge concept worked. Among consumers and industry experts, the results were easily visible. At January’s Detroit Auto Show, the new Pacifica was named the North American Utility of the Year. In February, it received MotorWeek’s 2017 Driver’s Choice Award for best minivan. For Genord, the accolades were great, but the experience served more as a lesson in how an entrenched manufacturing culture can affect the limits of design. “It wasn’t just a process change,” he said, looking back on it. “It was a change in the way of thinking.”
Saving Lives with Communication
Engineer Roy Goudy is leading Nissan’s development of vehicle-to-vehicle technology.
V2V engineer Roy Goudy of Nissan: “The way we use the data is our secret sauce.” (Source: Nissan Motor Co.)
Roy Goudy’s dream is that cars will one day talk to each other, as well as to stop signs, traffic lights, and roadside displays.
“In the U.S., there were 32,000 traffic fatalities last year,” he told Design News . “And vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to reduce those numbers. For that reason, my hope is to see it come to fruition.”
To be sure, Goudy isn’t alone in that hope. In December, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a proposed rule to advance deployment of the technology in U.S. cars. Moreover, every major automaker is working on incorporating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) in its future fleets.
“It’s revolutionary,” Goudy said, “because with this technology, Nissans will have to talk to GM vehicles and Fords will have to talk to Toyotas.”
Indeed, automakers must work together to some degree on V2V to provide vehicles with a common broadcast platform for communication. At the same time, however, all automakers are working on their own flavors of the technology to enable their vehicles to respond uniquely to the messages flying back and forth.
Nissan, for example, developed a warning system tailor-made to prevent intersection