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The Car’s Creation, From The Drawing Board To Your Home

A lot of work goes into creating a car, numerous ideas and designs and people take part in the making of a car. Infact, the car-creation odyssey makes NASA’s Journey to Mars program seem like a Caribbean luxury cruise. While we frequently address elements of the design and development process on this page, this is the first time we’ve presented the entire start-to-finish plan; this year’s 10Best celebration seemed like the perfect time and place to do so. One domestic and one import manufacturer—both requesting anonymity for competitive reasons—helped compile this guide to how cars are made.

We gathered related tasks under five headings.

The time required is the most interesting and secretive part of a car’s gestation; a crash program to replace a dead-on-its-wheels product may take only half the time invested in a normal, full-redesign effort.

In our illustrations, the clock begins when the generals gather to spur their troops to action. The end is when the new model reaches showrooms. On average, the entire process takes 72 months. There’s overlap to save time, as revealed by the start and finish months listed in each of the five category headings. After-sale activities—including service issues, continuous improvement, and midlife face lifts—are not included in this account. That’s for another 10Best.

  1. INVENTION

MONTHS 0–72

Research market, including in-house and field investigations, to identify the role of this product and its components in the global portfolio; define separation from similar models sold by sister brands

Identify special features, advantages, and potential world, U.S., or segment firsts

Define competitive set, target customers; set curb-weight, fuel-economy, and performance goals

Competitive assessment

Powertrain selection

Budget, funding, pricing, investment considerations

Computer-aided-engineering (CAE) analysis

Customer, press, analyst clinics

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Tesla Specializes In Seating In- House

With the competition tight in the automotive industry, each company trying to get ahead of one another, sometimes it is easier to manufacture certain products inside the company rather than importing it in. The latest: the Model X’s second-row seats.

In August, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told investors it was difficult to make the seats, which he described as a “sculptural work of art, but a very tricky thing to get right.” They were so challenging that they led him to reduce the electric-car maker’s delivery forecast that month to as few as 50,000 from 55,000, which set off a wave of skepticism over his ambitious plans.

“We have substantially in-sourced the seats at this point,” Musk said Tuesday during the third-quarter earnings call with analysts. “Tesla is producing its own seats.”

Musk has long been a fan of doing things on his own as much as possible, such as building the world’s largest battery factory outside of Reno, Nevada, to streamline production and reduce costs to bring a more-affordable car — the Model 3 — to market. When an analyst asked Musk about the enormous costs of the automotive industry, Musk said that Tesla is becoming more capital-efficient.

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Big Discounts On The Horizon From Car Companies

When is the best time to purchase car, and during what season do car companies have better deals. Well thanks to further insight it seems, as though right now might be the best time if you need to or want to buy a new car.

We are now approaching the end of the dog days of summer and dealerships are customarily quiet. Buyers generally are not overly interested in a new ride during vacation time.

This makes for a buying opportunity.

Take Kia. The 2015 Soul qualifies for an extra $1,000 in bonus cash as part of Kia’s end of summer “Best-in-Class” 12-day sale. That brings the combined factory and dealer discounts to about $3,000 on a $22,195 wagon-like runabout.

Ford, of course, wind down summer with its annual Employee Pricing extravaganza. The $2,551 discount on the Fusion sedan can be combined with 1.49 per cent financing for up to 60 months. Insiders suggest the savvy shopper will be able to squeeze out even more in hard negotiations.

Also consider models like the Hyundai Elantra, which is coming to the end of its current body style (Hyundai has released teaser illustrations of the next-generation Elantra). To keep interest healthy, Hyundai has slapped a $4,000 spiff on a $25,549 Elantra. And you should get at least another $1,000 in a negotiated dealer discount. That comes to at least a 20 per cent total discount on this Elantra.

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State Bird, State Flower, State Car?

When traveling across the United States you will see many different types of cars, seeing as each state tends to like certain types.

If you were to take a list of the most popular cars in each state in the U.S., it’d be a pretty monotonous list. A bunch of Ford F-150s, some Chevy Silverado and Ram pickups, the odd Honda Accord or Toyota Camry here or there.

But we were curious: What car was the most distinctive in each state? What model of car did, say, California buy far more often than any other state in the Union? We turned to auto analyst Tom Libby of IHS Automotive to help us crunch the numbers. First, Libby pulled data about the make and model of every car sold in the U.S., and calculated the popularity of each by percentage using registration data. Then, he did the same at the state level, and compared each state to the national average.

“I compared the share for each model in, for instance, Alabama with the share of the same of model in the United States and came up with a ratio,” says Libby. “Then I basically ranked those ratios within each state. It’s an interesting methodology—you’re basically able to compare the individual demand of a model in a state with the individual demand at the national level, and see what ways is each state unique from the nation.”

Some states seem to conform to stereotypes—Texas loves the hulking Cadillac Escalade EXT, NPR-loving New England enjoys their Volvos, and in the rough country of North Dakota they love the GMC Yukon Denali XL. But there are surprises: Georgia, for instance, seems to have a thing for Nissan Leaf. “Georgia had very, very strong incentives to buy electric vehicles,” says Libby, referencing the fact that until very recently, the Peach State offered $5,000 in state tax credits (in addition to $7,500 in federal tax credits) to anyone who bought an electric vehicle. In other words, everyone who bought a Nissan Leaf in Georgia saved themselves a cool $12,500.

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