Thursday, May 3, 2012

Moms And Female Engineers Helped GM Redesign The All New 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Behind the scenes, in wind tunnels, design studios, labs and on the test track, General Motors Co. engineers have been working the past few years to develop the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

To get the vehicle just right, GM asked four of its female engineers — and several moms also — to help redesign the all new 2013 Malibu. The popular family car will be sold not just here in the U.S., but around the world in nearly 100 countries.

Women buy slightly more than half of cars in the U.S. and participate in 80 percent of family car-buying decisions, according to industry statistics. So GM turned to the experts on family cars, the women who purchase and drive them.

The new 2013 Malibu, GM's first global midsize sedan, has special design touches from women engineers who ensured the plethora of child safety seats work in the vehicle, helped increase fuel economy and made it significantly quieter so moms — and dads — can hear their children in the backseat.

And some of these engineers aren't who you might expect. Single mom and aerodynamics development engineer Suzanne "Suzy" Cody and a colleague spent over 400 hours in the wind tunnel at the Warren Tech Center to reduce drag on the car. Cody, who sports blue hair and in her spare time laces up roller skates to compete as "Shovey Camaro" with the Bath City Roller Girls, led efforts to make the car more slippery through the wind, which helped gain 2.5 mpg in highway driving over the Malibu's predecessor. As a mother of two young boys, Cody said fuel economy is important to her and she knows how important it is to families. "You're worried about money, and when you can do small things to a car like shape the exterior, it doesn't cost the program any money to have the right exterior shape because you do it far enough in advance," she said. "You can affect the car in a way that doesn't cost the company any money, but saves the consumer money in the long run."

The all new 2013 Malibu also uses new materials to help it earn the Malibu's quietest title to date. Materials were placed behind the instrument panels, in panels, doors and in carpet to absorb noise. The Malibu also uses acoustic laminated glass to cut noise from big semis that zip by and interrupt conversations with kids, said Kara Gordon, a vehicle performance engineer for noise and vibration acoustics. "We've got voice-recognition technologies, we've got all this stuff we've loaded into the car and if it's not quiet enough, it won't work," said Gordon, who spent hours in a lab listening to Malibu noise recordings.

The 2013 Malibu Eco, which features eAssist technology to boost fuel economy to 25 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, is already on sale, with a starting price tag of $25,995.

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