What does it take to desgn a car?

What does it take to desgn a car?

On the Mazda6 launch the chief designer, Sato, came over from Japan. This is a guy who has worked for Mazda since 1973, and he worked on the original MX-5, the RX-8 and the Series III RX-7. Not many cars for 30 years there you might think, but most people don’t know how much work goes into making a car. A manufacturer like Ariel can come along with its Atom and be highly successful straight away, keeping the costs down, because it doesn’t have to worry about integrating airbags, installing window wipers, making sure door shut-lines are even (there are no doors), choosing a deadbolt for the door, or trying to figure out how to make the power windows work. When you look at the multitude of different facets of a car you realise just how much has to be designed. Someone decides on which side the indicator stalk is, what type of pedals will be used, how far the front seat can move backwards and forwards, and hundreds of thousands of other decisions. For a company like Mazda that also makes its own engines, it’s much more complex – Ariel sources its ones from Honda. Once you have an understanding of the magnitude of the task you start to realise how Holden could blow through one billion dollars developing the Commodore platform. It’d be easy. Someone needs to pick the fabric, someone else needs to design the chassis and work out the position of the engine mounts. Another person chooses the colours, someone coordinates crash testing, and someone else supervises the modelling of the wing mirrors. Cars are so complex now that for one person to design it is virtually impossible. So, when we hear that companies are merging and collaborating, and increasing their stake in others (like Porsche and VW today), you can understand why – it’s very expensive to build a car. As long as you have a platform that works, why not share that and add value to your car in other ways?

On the Mazda6 launch the chief designer, Sato, came over from Japan. This is a guy who has worked for Mazda since 1973, and he worked on the original MX-5, the RX-8 and the Series III RX-7. Not many cars for 30 years there you might think, but most people don’t know how much work goes into making a car. A manufacturer like Ariel can come along with its Atom and be highly successful straight away, keeping the costs down, because it doesn’t have to worry about integrating airbags, installing window wipers, making sure door shut-lines are even (there are no doors), choosing a deadbolt for the door, or trying to figure out how to make the power windows work. When you look at the multitude of different facets of a car you realise just how much has to be designed. Someone decides on which side the indicator stalk is, what type of pedals will be used, how far the front seat can move backwards and forwards, and hundreds of thousands of other decisions. For a company like Mazda that also makes its own engines, it’s much more complex – Ariel sources its ones from Honda. Once you have an understanding of the magnitude of the task you start to realise how Holden could blow through one billion dollars developing the Commodore platform. It’d be easy. Someone needs to pick the fabric, someone else needs to design the chassis and work out the position of the engine mounts. Another person chooses the colours, someone coordinates crash testing, and someone else supervises the modelling of the wing mirrors. Cars are so complex now that for one person to design it is virtually impossible. So, when we hear that companies are merging and collaborating, and increasing their stake in others (like Porsche and VW today), you can understand why – it’s very expensive to build a car. As long as you have a platform that works, why not share that and add value to your car in other ways?

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