General Motors, Flexibility & Interbuildability

Ken Knight, GM, executive director, Global Manufacturing Engineering, talks at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) 2011 Management Briefing Seminar on the morning of August 1.

Ken Knight, GM, executive director, Global Manufacturing Engineering, talks at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) 2011 Management Briefing Seminar on the morning of August 1. He’s talking about flexibility. About interbuildability (a complex word that essentially means the means by which one achieves “lean and strategic output—unbounded by geography.”) And he cites examples: the Chevrolet Sonic was launched by GM in South Korea last March. And the forthcoming Buick Verano, based on the architecture underlying the Chevy Cruze (which started in China, moved to Europe, then to the US), is the best-selling Buick in China.

The Sonic subcompact—a five-door hatch and a sedan—as well as the Verano are being produced on the same line at the GM Orion Assembly Plant.

Different cars. Same line. Oh, and Knight points out that the Sonic is the only subcompact being produced by any vehicle manufacturer—that’s as in ANY—in the US.

They spent more than $500-million in the plant.

Knight says, “We started production at the Orion plant two-and-a-half hours ago. My phone hasn’t been ringing, so. . . .”

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Top to bottom: Buick Verano, Sonic Sedan, Sonic Hatch