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12 November 2010

Chevrolet uses IBM's Rational platform for the new Volt Vehicle

Chevy Volt Conceptphoto © 2007 Neal | more info(via: Wylio)According to a report at TechCrunch, US car maker Chevrolet has been using IBM's Rational platform during the development of the new Chevy Volt.

As explained in Monday’s press release, GM used IBM’s suite of Rational software products (which includes design and simulation tools) “to develop some of the Volt’s critical electronic controls for the vehicle’s innovative battery system, electric drive unit, and cabin electronics.” According to LeBlanc, IBM’s software allowed disparate engineering teams to collaborate, put products to the test and it helped them model and better understand how various electronic systems would interact.
That’s a significant departure from the past, when GM’s engineering teams would develop components independently, with minimal sharing during the development process.
First, kudos to Chevy for embracing a collaborative approach to design. The company has for too long been saddled with an overly hierarchical structure. Lets hope that this is just the first step towards a more effective development process for them. Also, kudos to IBM for making a very high profile software sale

While that quote is nice, it isn't the one that really caught my eye.

IBM and GM revealed new details on Monday on the car’s electronic backbone and how it came together in 29 months, from concept to finish.
29 months for a project from start to finish. Is that good or bad? Yes, it is less time than most complete new car designs for an auto manufacturer, but is it something to brag about or not? Two and a half years is still a very long time, especially while the company is going through a massive bankruptcy.

Two things that are not said in the article are 1) was 29 months ahead, on or behind schedule and 2) how did the project do against its projected budget? These are far more fascinating questions to me as they would tell us a lot about GM's ability to actually execute its plans.

How would you rate GM's progress as shown with the Volt?