The Dodge Challenger beat the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro to market with ludicrously short 21 month development period – that’s a fact, sir. But how? Did they guzzle a lot of caffeine and stay up all night? Well, probably, but the key to the Challenger’s quick trip from the CAD rendering to whatever Dodge dealerships remain open after their bankruptcy was their Knowledge-Based Engineering System, which is one of those stupidly simple streamlining concepts that makes you stop and wonder, how come no one’s done that before? Basically, the team pumped as much of Chrysler’s development data on similar cars into their development program, changed parameters where necessary (for example, imputing a shorter wheelbase to adjust data from the slightly larger Charger), and running a huge battery of tests on the resulting computer model of the car.
The program automatically flagged individual parts for redesign when they weren’t up to the task, also checking for fit and alignment to ensure that the real car would all mesh together in real life. The Challenger was also virtually crashed millions of times, allowing the individual components of the car to be machined directly from the computer data already within safety specs. That saved valuable time and money in real-world crash and fatigue tests. Sounds like a good idea, and although we’re not exactly sure if it’s much different that the development procedures that other companies employ, we think Chrysler should think about generating some additional cash by offering to set up proprietary production efficiency refinements at other automakers. (Er, at least ones they don’t directly compete with!)