On September 5, as I walked into an enormous garage in General Motors' sprawling Vehicle Engineering Center (VEC) in Warren, Michigan, GM engineers were tearing apart the competition.
Literally. A Mercedes sport utility vehicle stripped of its body panels and chassis sat on a platform like a cadaver on an autopsy table, components of its exhaust system arranged neatly on a cart for examination.
The room is the VEC's Teardown Area, the workshop of GM's Competitive Benchmarking team. Nearby, dozens more vehicles were in various stages of deconstruction. Some were past model years from GM, but more were current models from other manufacturers. All of them were in the process of being digitized. Like Jeff Bridges in TRON, they were being converted from metal, plastic, and glass into "math," reverse-engineered into computer models for benchmark trials on GM's simulation grid. The result is data that's almost as good as having direct access to competitors' original engineering data.Read Article