Mazda, Toyota and Denso join new low-cost automotive design alliance
TOKYO – In an effort to accelerate development and reduce costs, 10 Japanese automakers and major parts suppliers said on Friday they would standardize the way they design vehicles.
Mazda Motor, Toyota Motor, Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and Subaru along with parts suppliers Denso, Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric, Aisin and Jatco will be founding members of a new organization created to promote model-based development.
While some major automakers are already using model-based development, the integration of small and medium-sized parts suppliers is expected to boost the competitiveness of the Japanese auto industry, as its limits are tested by electric vehicles and new ones. technologies such as autonomous driving.
Mazda was the first Japanese automaker to take this approach, fully embracing it in the 2000s.
“We don’t have the luxury of spending time ironing out the differences” between vehicle and parts manufacturers, Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda innovation manager, told a press conference. “We will improve efficiency where we can so that we can focus on investing in areas such as environmental technologies.”
In model-based development, each part is digitally rendered so that a virtual car can be created. Simulations allow designers to see which parts cause malfunctions or increase wind resistance. This approach is cheaper and faster than building and running real prototypes.
Mazda’s move to model-based development led to the birth of its Skyactiv fuel-saving technology, which was incorporated into the CX-5 SUV released in 2012 and other models and proved popular with drivers.
Mazda was able to cut the time it takes to develop engines in half by using model-based development. With competitors like Toyota and Honda subsequently introducing it, the design approach is becoming common among automakers.
But parts suppliers were slow to embrace the change. Small and medium-sized businesses have less room in their budgets to hire tech-savvy engineers. Many lower-level vendors who rely on the skills of seasoned machinists have not embraced digital design and development.
One of the goals of the new organization is to help these small suppliers by providing them with technological and other support.
Another goal is to create unified rules to facilitate model-based development. Automakers have used different methods to show how tires move when the engine is running. Creating an industry standard will eliminate the need for parts suppliers to modify designs to meet individual automaker’s rules, saving time and money.
The European automotive industry has also introduced model-based development. Daimler, BMW, Robert Bosch, Continental and other automakers and suppliers joined forces in this area before Japan.