Sometimes, an outsider can carry a revolutionary idea that will never be found, unless it is tapped by a particular organization. That’s why General Motors carries out programs like EcoCar3, featuring the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, and challenges universities to create environmentally-friendly solutions.
But, “promote from within” is a longstanding business technique, and that’s what GM has done for the past few years. This year, things have heated up further with an internal “Shark Tank” if you will. GM is currently in the process of hearing five-minute pitches from internal employees on new technology, processes and more to advance GM operations in a number of areas, as reported by Automotive News.
The judges include Mark Reuss, Jon Lauckner, GM’s head of R&D, chief technology officer and president of GM Ventures; and Gary Smyth, who runs GM’s global R&D labs.
Inventors pitch their solutions to the panel, with the winner receiving at least $1 million of investment to bring the solution to life. Projects GM funds are to be “commercially successful” and advance the company’s vehicle lineup, manufacturing process or generate income.
“Some are real bets on the future,” he says. “If they are unsuccessful, you won’t be too sad because if you fund enough projects over enough years, you’ll find a few that will be absolute blowouts,” Reuss commented.
One blowout includes the revolutionary welding process to weld aluminum to aluminum, and aluminum to steel, as seen on the 2016 Cadillac CT6 and the vehicle Omega architecture. The idea was spawned from an earlier iteration of this competition, and is expected to save GM $1 billion in its next-generation of full-size pickups. The system also allows for production lines to run while retooling, meaning no loss of production.
Current ideas in the running include, smudge- and fingerprint-proof video screens, a new way to manufacture catalytic converters that eliminates many expensive precious metals, an advanced head-up display system, and sensors that can detect odors in and around vehicles.
GM CEO Mary Barra stated she wants to lead and disrupt within the industry, and this is surely one of those way to succeed in her vision.