Update: Steering the Cadillac ATS #NewGM

Automotive news has a good article about changes at GM to the way that purchasing is organized.  Here is a link to the original article: GM purchasing gets a re-engineering – Automotive News.

The Cadillac ATS (new vehicle on the way that is Smaller than a CTS, also known sometimes as Alpha, or BMW Fighter) steering info:

Stephens said the integration already is paying off. GM executives point to their recent selection of a more expensive power-steering supplier over a cheaper offer because the winning supplier offered a more desirable technology. That decision — for a future rear-wheel-drive Cadillac sedan that GM employees call the “BMW fighter” — was made jointly by purchasing and engineering, Stephens said.

This was previously mentioned in this article Re: GM to lavish cash on new vehicles [Like the ATS], although from a different point of view.  Clearly the ATS is getting some interesting steering setup that will allow it to meet or exceed state of the art steering ‘feel’.  Because the ATS is aimed squarely at the BMW 3-series, steering feel and performance can be a make-or-break attribute for this new Cadillac.  Spending money on a terrific steering system is perfectly value added, because it may directly influence purchasing decisions.

One of the slogans that Mercedes uses for their E class is “Built to a standard”, not to a price point.  By this they would like to suggest that the vehicle vision and specification were attained with cost as a dependent variable to the selected design.  This appears to be what Cadillac is doing with the ATS as well — building it as a better, more capable Cadillac, seeking best value rather than the lowest cost supplier in each case.  This makes tremendous sense to me, although I am somewhat troubled with  highlighting this as a change — I would have expected it to be the way that GM was previously making Cadillacs.

The article goes on to detail that Engineering and Purchasing have now aligned their organization structures and are co-locating their personnel so that they can more easily team with each other and with suppliers.  All good, and certainly good to start doing now if it was not already being done.

The article also mentions Amerigon thermoelectrics.  Amerigon makes the heating/cooling elements for Cadillac seats.  They also offer heated or cooled cup holders.  They use a peltier effect system.

BENEFITS OF THERMOELECTRIC HEATING AND COOLING:

  • Ability to cool or heat by simply reversing the current flow
  • Solid-state, few or no moving parts
  • Rugged, highly reliable assemblies
  • Very effective for automatic temperature control
  • Quiet, small, lightweight
  • Environmentally safe

It will be interesting to see what else GM has in mind for this system. Perhaps we will yet see the return of the heated washer fluid reservoir, or heated/cooled steering wheels.

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