Forget drawing boards, rooms full of designers and clay models. Car development today goes through market studies, a lot of calculations and, of course, the work of engineers, designers and analysts.
In the unprecedented case of the Chevrolet Montana, for example, the main “engineer” in the development of the mid-size pickup was a supercomputer the size of 20 football fields. To do all this, in the digital world, what was previously done in the real world, with prototypes similar to those we know in the laboratories of General Motors in Indaiatuba (SP), and which can cost millions of reais.
Montana with Ferrari price
More precisely, something around R$ 2 million, estimates a Chevrolet engineer in the report. That’s because every one of Montana’s 30,000 camouflaged pieces (which we can only see from the outside) is handcrafted in the brand’s prototype workshop.
Built identical to what we should have on sale in early 2023, the Montana of Video will cover hundreds of thousands of miles in total to ensure engineering confirms that absolutely every system and component is working properly.
In six months, the intentionally dented and defective tracks at the Cruz Alta proving ground simulate the 15-year life of a normal car. Obviously, this is a very expensive process, but it could be even more expensive if IBM and other tech companies weren’t on the automaker’s side.
The computer giant has been a partner of General Motors since 1950. In 1960, the two introduced their major co-creation, the DAC-1: the first computer-aided design (CAD) program in history. Today, CAD is mandatory knowledge for every mechanical or civil engineering engineer, and it is taught in the first part of the course.
But the ball of the day is a data processing center with an area equal to 20 football fields. There, in the city of Milford, Michigan, USA, an unimaginable amount of mathematical equations are performed that allow 3D Montana to be driven into a virtual wall. If the same collision occurs in Indaiatuba, the result is practically identical.
a philosophical question
In 1814, the French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace asked the following question: if we knew the necessary information about every particle in the universe, could we predict the future and review the past?
To this day, mental exercise is discussed, and at least part of the retrospect has already been canceled by the discovery of some irreversible processes in nature, such as thermodynamic ones. General Motors, however, relies on the finite element method to predict the future – or try to.
In this method, competitor Fiat Toro reduces its parts to millions of squares or other geometric shapes. For each of these little bits there is a mathematical formula that calculates its behavior. “An infinity of simulations and improvements that can be made throughout the project,” explains Suzimara Ducatti, virtual simulation specialist at GM South America.
The engineer points out that computers make it possible to develop cars in half the time. But the computers don’t work by themselves, and that’s where the talent of the technical team comes into play: “the secret to properly using these supercomputers and artificial intelligence software lies in the experience and the way GM engineers enter and analyze the data.”
If the “computer artists” are good enough, the models will predict the behavior of the entire vehicle with astonishing fidelity; although in each square of this square there is a certain number of atoms with enough zeros that they do not fit in this text.
The audience is the biggest test
Even with such an investment, Chevrolet knows that simulations are not perfect and that street tests are mandatory. Captured by the QUATRO RODAS, one of them was even built alongside the Renault Oroch, the Montana’s second most important competitor.
However, the first step in the truck’s development will be the last to be evaluated. That’s because, before any computer was turned on, General Motors’ marketing and sales teams got together to study the market and guess consumer tastes.
In their opinion, the next few years will be about urban pickup trucks, with more style than functionality. In this more “gourmet” use, passengers expect the interior space of an SUV, the bucket has to carry more volume than the load and consumption cannot be sacrificed, while the engine has to perform well.
None of the presentation staff seems to be afraid of failing the test. The brand is categorical in its claim that the new Montana will be more spacious, more agile and more economical than its main competitors. The final test, however, will take place when the new Brazilian medium truck hits showrooms in 2023.