Automobiles Citroen cut the development time for the new Picasso compact minivan to 151 weeks - a record for the PSA/Peugeot-Citroen group, according to project manager Jean Francois Poluzet.
'Time to market is important in a new segment,' said Poluzet. In the case of the Picasso, however, it was even more important than usual. Citroen was anxious to catch up with the Renault Scenic and Opel/ Vauxhall Zafira in Europe's hottest segment.
Critics say Citroen had been caught off guard by the sudden popularity of small minivans in the mid-1990s.
Initial planning for the Picasso started early in 1996, and the project was approved in November of that year. The total project cost only FF2.35 billion (a355 million), including FF1 billion spent on tooling, said Poluzot.
Designs were simplified by making the left- and right-hand sides of components and component systems mirror images of each other, said Poluzot.
Restricting the designers to this strategy 'made the project faster and saved money,' said Poluzot.
The tooling for the Picasso dashboard cost 40 percent less than for the Berlingo van, said Poluzot.
Simultaneous engineering with dashboard supplier Sommer Allibert and tooling supplier Jaud meant designs were finalized early with no subsequent styling changes.
The Picasso shares almost 60 percent of its parts with other PSA models, said Poluzet, compared with 35-40 percent on older models.
The front end, including suspension, is shared with the Xsara, while the rear end is based on the Berlingo. Front seat frames, heating and ventilation come from the Peugeot 206.
Sixty-five suppliers account for 95 percent of the value of the bought-in components. The plant in Vigo, Spain, where the Picasso is built, was involved very early in the project.
Workers from the production line assembled production prototype cars earlier than usual to make the transition to full production smoother.
Production began in October 1999, and the initial ramp-up was fast - reaching 450 cars a day on three shifts by mid-December 1999.
PSA plans to produce 180,000 Picasso models this year.