Revolutionary approach to supplier relationships fosters teamwork, speeds decision making, slashes body panel design time by 90 percent
PHOENIX, March 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Elio Motors, Inc. (OTCQX: ELIO), the startup vehicle manufacturer planning to launch a three-wheeled vehicle that will get up to 84 MPG with a targeted base price of $6,800, today announced it has finalized its body panel design, relying on unprecedented levels of supplier input and collaboration to reduce body panel development time by 90 percent.
“Finalizing the body panel design is another important milestone in our development and our relentless quest to get the Elio to production,” said Paul Elio, founder and CEO of Elio Motors. “It’s also a great example of how we innovate in every aspect of our operation. We’ve organized our engineering teams and supplier partners to give them more freedom to provide ideas and decisions. Their collective brainpower is essential in meeting the aggressive cost and quality standards we’ve set and that our customers demand. The teamwork and talent of our supplier partners was on full display in the body panel development.”
The Elio Motors supplier engagement process has grouped the company’s engineering team members and supplier partners into eight work groups, each taking responsibility for a specific portion of the vehicle. Within each group, suppliers are encouraged to work directly with each other on a daily basis to brainstorm, review and approve engineering changes that will help Elio Motors get closer to its cost and quality targets. In traditional manufacturer/supplier relationships in the auto industry, even minute decisions must be approved by the manufacturer, which often slows down the development process and adds cost to the vehicle.
For Elio Motors’ supplier partners, this inclusive approach is a welcome change to decades-old industry practices.
“The Elio Motors design process is the new paradigm in automotive engineering and design,” said Frank Phillips, Jr., president of Molded Plastic Industries. “It allows participating suppliers to bring their best ideas to the table and to work together collaboratively with other product development teams (PDT) for the good of the project. It’s very different from the long-standing status quo in getting a vehicle to the commercial production stage. I’ve worked in the industry since 1982, and have never experienced this much revolutionary development process innovation.”
The body panels were designed by the Molded Plastic Development Team, which includes Molded Plastic Industries of Holt, Mich., Excel Pattern of Dearborn, Mich., in collaboration with the Frame Development Team Schwab Industries of Shelby Township, Mich.
“Our Molded Plastic Development Team has done a remarkable job of bringing our Elio vehicle’s exterior body panel system to a level of commercial manufacturability in a very short period of time,” said Gino Raffin, vice president of manufacturing for Elio Motors. “This feat, combined with our recently announced body framing and engine cradle design release are important steps that show we are rapidly gaining momentum as we move toward production.”
The final body panel design is critical from a visual perspective, because it encompasses all of the exterior surfaces that customers will see, and it includes how the door, trunk lid and all body panels fit together. The fit and finish of the panels will impact customer perceptions of quality. The panels also function to repel water, exhaust, road noise and other environmental intrusions into the vehicle’s interior, which can not only affect the longevity of the vehicle, but also the comfort of occupants.
About Elio Motors
Founded by car enthusiast Paul Elio in 2009, Elio Motors Inc. represents a revolutionary approach to manufacturing an ultra-high-mileage vehicle. The three-wheeled Elio is engineered to attain a highway mileage rating of up to 84 mpg, while providing the comfort of amenities such as power windows, power door lock and air conditioning, accompanied by the safety of multiple air bags and an aerodynamic, enclosed vehicle body. Elio’s first manufacturing site will be in Shreveport, Louisiana.
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