General Motors' new Corsa supermini is a little longer than its predecessor and a little less cute - both by design.
The wheelbase was lengthened by 48mm to provide more interior space. Meanwhile, Ulrich Schmalohr, vehicle line chief engineer for the Corsa platform, says the car was given a more 'mature' look.
Both changes were meant to make the Corsa appeal more to males and to 25- to 40-year-olds. The company wanted to reposition the car closer to the lower-medium Astra to reduce overlap with the tiny Agila.
GM Europe also tried to raise the insurance rating of the car to best-in-class by making it easier to repair. GM aimed for 10 or 11 on the Danner scale - the standard German insurance cost scale - instead of 13-14 for the outgoing model.
In many places screws were used instead of welds. The wiring harness is broken into three parts that can be replaced separately. The design allows individual wires and connectors to be replaced.
The Corsa went from design freeze to start of production in just 32 months. GM 'front-loaded' the development process to speed it up - starting work with suppliers earlier and doing virtual production runs a year before the production launch.
To minimize changes, contracts were agreed between GM's development team and engineering departments, such as the powertrain division. The agreements covered cost and quality targets as well as deadlines. An independent team audited each prototype phase of the car.
Few of the components outside the engines are carried over from the older generation or other models in GM's range. However, the rear axle is a modified version of the older model's rear axle.
Ideas like pre-mounting the cooling system and steering system on the subframe were carried over from the Astra.
The new Corsa is more modular than its predecessor. Schmalohr said there are 60 modules on the vehicle, though they are not as big as modules being introduced by some other manufacturers.
For example, the Corsa includes a cooling module, but does not use a full-scale front-end module incorporating the lights.
Suppliers were involved earlier in the design of major modules such as the heating/ventilation and air conditioning systems. In some areas a large degree of responsibility was handed over to suppliers. Bosch handled development of the engine management system and NSK took the lead for the electric steering system.
The Corsa development team sought quality levels consistent with the outgoing Corsa from the start of production. One way they achieved this was by using prototype parts built on actual production tooling a full year before start of production. Normally that is done just six months before.
'It was expensive,' said Schmalohr, but it helped GM achieve a rapid ramp-up time.
The development team also involved representatives of the lead plant in Zaragoza, Spain, at an early stage. Assembly time for the new model was reduced by 30 minutes compared with the outgoing model, with a much higher basic content level.
The Corsa will also be produced in Azambuja, Portugal, and Eisenach, Germany. Annual capacity for the car in Europe is 560,000.
l There is an addition to the list of suppliers to the new Ford Mondeo (see cutaway diagram on Page 6 of the December 4 issue of Automotive News Europe).
Rieter Automotive Systems of Switzerland is the systems supplier for the Mondeo's damping package.
Rieter supplies the Mondeo's molded, thermoplastically insulated floor carpet; the trunk lining system; the complete sound insulation system including absorbing insulation and deadeners; the body sealing system; and the engine compartment undershields.
Rieter was responsible for the engineering and design of the entire damping package, which includes a total of 120 components.
Reiter had sales of Sfr1.6 billion (E1.05 billion) last year.