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Old 03-31-2006, 12:41 PM
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Idea - what do you guys think of this...

Been reading today about GM's woes.

Got me thinking about the way cars are made.

I'm in the computer industry. One thing that differentiates the two is a high degree of standardization in the computer industry.

For example, I can buy a PC from Dell, or whoever, and I can either have them customize it, or I can later replace or add components from Dell, or other manufacturers to make the computer fit my needs. Within reason, most components are backwards-compatible too, so I don't necessarily have to upgrade everything, and I can invest in some components that are "more than I need" right now, knowing I'll be able to use them with the next system.

What if we were to do the same thing with cars and take it a step further by using the same techniques used to build Linux - mass collaboration?

I'm thinking we could put together a design standard, I named it X-car just to call it something. It would lay out enough of a design to define the basic structure of the chassis, based on a predetermined drivetrain, but would leave everything else up to the builder(s).

Lets say to pick a sedan, just because that's what most people drive, and say it would be RWD. Pick a track and wheelbase - probably something common, I suspect that the roofline would have to be built into the design from the bottom of the windows up. That would pretty much lock in the glass, which is one of those things that's hard to fabricate anyhow - so they could be made in volume. Everything else though, would be structural, with specific mount points defined.

Any person/company could then build a chassis to these specifications, and out of whatever materials (aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, some mix of all of the above). Interior companies could build interiors around the specifications of the inside. If all the body surfaces were decorative (and it seems like most new vehicles are already there), then any company could make body parts out of plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, steel, whateiver, that would bolt up to the standard.

Any engine/transmission could potentially be adapted to the mount points. Ditto with the suspension.

People who buy cars like they buy applicances could buy a pre-built and assembled x-car just like they do today's vehicles.

People who like to customize their factory car could get just a chassis and body, then pick their drivetrain, interior, sound system, etc. and assemble it (or have it assembled) as they wished.

Rodders could build whatever parts they wanted from scratch, or could pick and choose pre-built or homebuilt based on their skills and $$. Any company anywhere in the world could produce any components to the standard, from mild to wild, cheap to expensive.

There could be bare-bones inexpensive transportation boxes with no options and boring bodies, or high-performance versions, or full-luxury versions or any mix in between.

If the standard stayed stable enough for long enough, then a whole used-part market could open up, with everything interchangeable.

I'm thinking this could be done pretty easily right now. There are plenty of existing vehicles out there that are already pretty much the same. They all have suspension components, electrical components, engines, etc. predesigned and with vendors supplying them, either OEM or aftermarket.

Its along the same lines as putting an S-10 chassis under various vehicles, or the several S-10 rebodies out there, but taking it another step further.

Heck, a light truck might be a better place to start since most are frame-based and the market is hot right now - then you could pick from a variety of cabs and beds to fit your needs, or build something like an Avalanche, or whatever.

The biggest challenge I see is getting it licensed/titled and passing all the government regulations. However, you could probably get some buy-in by those agencies - less cars would end up in the boneyard if you could easily swap in a newer powertrain to an otherwise decent chassis, or upgrade as more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly stuff came out. New safety features could probably be retrofitted.

Seems like most people get rid of cars because the drivetrain is worn out, or the interior has become ratted, or the body is rusting. However, in a lot of cases, only one of those is the problem, and the rest of the vehicle isn't bad. Cars could last many years longer, and you could alter them relatively easily to fit changing tastes, styles and needs.

Just talking off the top of my head here, but what do you guys think of the concept?

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Old 03-31-2006, 01:43 PM

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Most of the mfg are experimenting with platforms that can be re-bodied. Even to the point of sports cars and sedans using the same platform.

I don't remember which one but one of them did have a concept of a complete drive by wire drivetrain that could be re-bodied to reflect changing styles and or replace the drivetrain and keep your body. It was unplug, unbolt, reattach and plug in.

It's possibly coming, but it reminded me of a Jetsons episode for some reason though.

Maybe drive your sedan to work all week, then put the roadster body on for the weekend.
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Old 03-31-2006, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 428ho
I don't remember which one but one of them did have a concept of a complete drive by wire drivetrain that could be re-bodied to reflect changing styles and or replace the drivetrain and keep your body. It was unplug, unbolt, reattach and plug in.
I think that was GMs hydrogen fuel cell chassis - it was sort of a flat bed with wheels, and you could pop any body onto it. I think it was called the Autonomy.

Haven't seen that in awhile, so my memory might not be accurate.

Here's a pic of it...

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Old 03-31-2006, 02:48 PM
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We are working on that standardization exercise right now. we are looking at what is being called Corporate systems. Like a seat that provides for use in many different platforms. At the moment and historically there is a standard between certain cars like Grand Prix=Impala=Monte Carlo. but not these cars verse a Envoy. GM has been looking to improve that for a few years now but the push has gone up ten fold over the last 18 months.

The only thing that I can say is that it is more like trying to make Desktop and laptops use the same monitor. There are certain areas that FMVSS and consumers wants are conflicting.

But it is clear to the OEM that standarization is the key to the future. Plants are being considered for closure in part on the basis of their ability to flex into the assembly of many different products in part by standarizing assembly lines and methods.
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Old 03-31-2006, 05:03 PM
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I think its gonna happen,ALL! new cars will look like a honda,or a toyota,and all the motors will be interchangable. They will all look the same,and have the same performance. Thats when the goverment will mandate all hotrods and such are now ilegal. Im afraid,Im very afraid.
If I had the money,Id do that!
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Old 03-31-2006, 05:15 PM
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Here is something to work on standardizing..... BOLTS and ELECTRICAL CONNECTORS

Imagine 1/4 inch 1/2 inch 3/4 and in rare cases 1 inche bolts are all that there would be (4 sockets to do every job) Besides bolts are FRIGGEN EXPENSIVE! I would like to see if someone counted up all the bolts and screws in a car and checked out the cost of them all..... my guess is it would be double the value of the car.

Or you know if electrical connectors were standardized. Ever try to find one of the "special" plugs
BiG WHiskey
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Old 03-31-2006, 07:28 PM
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SOme manufacturers are even starting to build engine plants together. I forget who's doing it but there are a couple three manufacturers building a plant to use a motor in a few different makes of vehicle.

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Old 03-31-2006, 08:55 PM
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I've seen a episode on the history channel about this such thing as a prototype.
Basically the way you describe it but its a flat rolling chassis electric Hydrogen powered with left, middle or right hand steering & interchangeable bodies ,so that when the kids grow up, pop off the mini bus body & put in a chip & a sports car body on it. And Badda big Badda boom new /old car.

I think I taped it on the VCR probably A Modern Marvels episode.I want to say :future car tech"

But if you stifle the creativity process ,you step down the flow of new Ideas & Stem Creativity ,Innovations ,Technology {if everyone is basically driving the same thing with the same parts }

But I always say that is good for the masses leave my gas guzzling beast alone!

Have some respect for your elders!

Now get that suppository on wheels out of my way !

Yeee Hawww!



"Illegitimis non carborundum"
Don't let the bastards grind you down!

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Old 04-01-2006, 12:17 AM
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This one's been around for a while but if cars ran like windows:???
taken from context off Google:

If Cars Ran Like Software
I don't know if this is true or not, but it makes for a funny story...

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally, your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation" warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask, "Are you sure?" before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off.
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