“Keep it simple, pure, and beautiful and it will be easy to love.” This was the basic inspiration set down by Bob Lutz that led to development of the Pontiac Solstice roadster concept – an open-air, sporty, “gotta-have-it,” two-seater sports car.
Development of the Solstice was executed in record time–just 15 weeks–from the first sketch to the complete vehicle. That compares favorably to an industry development cycle between 24 and 36 months. The exceptionally fast development time enabled GM to reveal a running version of the sleek roadster at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, January, 2002, where the car won a Best in Show award. Frank Saucedo, Design Director of GM’s California Concept Center, says his team used Alias|Wavefront AutoStudio not only to cut development time and meet the show deadline, but also to achieve a finer design.
Early sketch shows dual port grill; strong wheel-to-body relationship; wide planted stance; and taut, athletic shapes of the concept roadster. Early sketch shows dual port grill; strong wheel-to-body relationship; wide planted stance; and taut, athletic shapes of the concept roadster. Image courtesy General Motors and Alias|Wavefront.
“Originally, we worked toward having only a static vehicle ready in time and even that was cutting it very close,” Saucedo says. “However, by using electronic and math tools throughout the process it was possible to show a complete, running vehicle with engine, transmission, seats and interior styling. We could not have done this ten years ago or even two years ago.”
The GM team not only did more than it thought it could in the allotted time, but they did it especially well, winning design excellence awards and getting a great deal of play in the consumer media. Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Auto Week – all the major automotive publications have lauded the Solstice and encouraged GM to move it into production. 3D Modeling and Simulation
Nick Mynott, a math sculptor for General Motors Design, says that now is the first time in the history of the auto making business that a designer can sit down in a chair with a small tablet and a stylus and generate an inspired sketch directly over engineering data and see it full size instantly. “No running back and forth with tape in our hands, trying to work the math into the artistic equation. Having a common platform in place for discussions and data flow both ways – between design and engineering – makes us a stronger organization. That is a very powerful change for our business,” says Mynott.
The sporty design, open air, simple and easy to love look of the Solstice is carried through in this rendering of the interior. The sporty design, open air, simple and easy to love look of the Solstice is carried through in this rendering of the interior. Image courtesy General Motors and Alias|Wavefront.
By incorporating AutoStudio software into the company’s design process, every member of the GM team is armed with a creative tool and common language that sparks synergy between designer, sculptor and engineer. “No longer is it the sole responsibility of design to simply deal with aesthetic and ergonomic issues and act independently of engineering,” says Saucedo. “Now the design team can sketch any idea that comes to mind, import it into AutoStudio, and then create a math model or AutoStudio surface with the same kind of passion as if it were created in clay – all done more affordably and in a fraction of the time traditionally needed.” Model of Success
From the dual port grille to the independent rear suspension, the Pontiac Solstice had to look like a design that only the might of a major manufacturer could refine to the level that’s been achieved. “The Solstice has been a huge win for our organization,” says Saucedo. “I’m glad to say we made it happen and advanced computing tools like AutoStudio helped us get there.”