The Hummer assignment for Oppenheimer and his team was 117 weeks shorter than a typical GM program, he said. But instead of cutting corners, he wanted to work smarter.
Despite challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, the global microchip shortage and other supply chain disruptions, the Hummer team hit the mark.
Engineers often wait up to 11 months to get the tools they need to build a vehicle — almost half the total development time the Hummer team was allotted. GMC relied on heavy simulation through computer-aided engineering to get the truck to the market quickly.
Traditionally, engineers would use computer modeling and then build prototypes that they would break and crash for testing. They would make necessary design changes and build more prototypes to test again.
“That all takes time,” said Oppenheiser. For the Hummer, he and his team had to trust the data. “We made a company decision to rely on our analysis tools,” he said.
They used vehicle modules in the test lab and drove vehicle simulators, he said. “We set up the ride handling, the ride character of the vehicle in a simulated environment that actually matches what happens when you build the first vehicle,” Oppenheiser said.
By the time BrightDrop began planning its strategy for the EV600, Hummer had set the framework. The van’s engineers applied the virtual, computer-aided process that the Hummer team pioneered.