Innovation Examples From General Motors


Whenever I see true brilliance in action, in the form of innovation, I feel the need to share the experience.

In this article, I provide links to some of the best videos and articles I have seen that have either originated in General Motors (GM) facilities or feature GM products. I will be adding content to this article over time since GM is a leader in both car and technological innovation and there will be a lot more to come in the future.

I am not writing this article just because I work for GM. I have always appreciated GM cars, going back to the days we I used to work with my friends on GTO’s, Chevelles, Firebirds, Trans-Ams, etc. I really loved those 1960-1970 era muscle cars and one day I’ll have to get some pictures added to this article showing the examples from my past.


Article 1 – GM and Innovation

Click here to see the Forbes article on why GM is a leader in technological innovation.

But today’s GM is a technology-driven enterprise that generates a startling number of innovations. Its sprawling R&D complex, which employs more people than Facebook, is pressing the boundaries in areas like vehicle autonomy, renewable energy, lightweight materials and cyber-security.


Video 1 – Building the 650 HP LT4 V8 Engine

This video shows how GM’s most powerful engine ever (Figure 1), the 650hp LT4 V8, is built using robotics and the human touch. The GM production facility shown in the video (the Tonawanda Engine Plant, Buffalo, NY) was first constructed in 1938 and has undergone many transformations through the years.

Click here to view how the Z06 Corvette engine is built.


Figure 1 – The 650 HP LT4 engine.


The technologies employed during engine construction and the data generated from this facility are world-class. I give you permission to treat yourself to 10 minutes of pure fascination as you watch this amazing engine being built.

Video 2 – New and Emerging Technologies in GM Cars

If you are interested in mixed-metal design and structural engineering, this video is a must for you to see. The new Cadillac CT6 (Figure 2) is an engineering marvel in many ways.

Click here to learn about some new fascinating technologies developed by GM for its 2016 CT6.


Figure 2 – The 2016 Cadillac CT6.

Video 3 – 2017 Camaro ZL1 – Redefining Automatic Transmissions

If high-performance is in your blood, the new 10-speed transmission (Figure 3) being used in the 2017 Camaro is for you. The short video will surely get your heart pumping as the engineer says “bang, bang, bang” in the video.

Click here to see a video about the performance and design of this transmission. Figure 3 shows the tranny installed in a testing dyno.

This is a beast of a car, and when you poke it, you make it angry.


Figure 3 – The 10 speed tranny in a dyno. Watch the video to see why that was done.


Example 4 – 2018 GMC Terrain Scores an Aerodynamic Touchdown

By Amanda Reuss of GM

What do a football and an SUV have in common? Both rely on exceptional aerodynamics to perform to their fullest, and the GMC Terrain and Wilson leather NFL game footballs are perfect examples.

With the NFL Pro Bowl taking place next Sunday, we’re here to tell you how this relates to GMC, and more specifically, the 2018 GMC Terrain.

GMC Terrain engineers clocked more than 300 hours in the wind tunnel refining every surface of the Terrain, from the front grille to the rear spoiler. As a longtime sponsor of ESPN’s Monday Night Red Carpet Kickoff, GMC knows a thing or two about the American pastime. But the connection doesn’t stop there. Just like airflow is essential for vehicle performance, football aerodynamics are critical for game time performance. While the vehicle and a football are vastly different in size and function, the aerodynamics teams for both analyze air trails using tools such as computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analytics.

The Terrain’s lifted stance means that more air can flow under the vehicle and pressurize the chassis components, which increases aerodynamic drag. To reduce this drag and optimize aero performance, Terrain aerodynamicists used testing and simulation to craft features that effectively guide air to the back of the vehicle.

“Reducing the aerodynamic drag of an SUV is always a challenge,” said GMC Aerodynamic Engineer Alicia Bidwell. “Our engineering team paid attention to even the smallest details to deliver the size and cargo space our customers want.”

This attention to detail and craftsmanship delivered the next chapter of GMC’s design language and assisted in providing more athletic handling and bold performance for Terrain customers.

“The styling that you can see — and the mechanical components that you can’t — work together in perfect aerodynamic harmony,” said Bidwell. “Ultimately, this means up to 3 more miles per gallon for the Terrain driver for an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined for AWD models.”


“Many [people] look at our NFL football and see it as a simple object,” said Daniel Hare, aerodynamics research engineer, Advanced Innovation, Wilson Sporting Goods. “However, the amount of engineering, particularly in the area of aerodynamics, that has gone into the ball is pretty extraordinary. Every millimeter of the football has been designed to maximize the airflow around it so we can extend its flight, reduce drag and help maintain stability as much as possible.”

Hare points to the classic football shape and how Wilson researchers have enhanced that shape over time to reflect today’s passing-centric game, where aerodynamic properties, such as velocity, direction of motion and spin rate, are critical.

Beyond shape, Wilson researchers also look at the pebble pattern of the leather on an NLF game football as well as the height of the laces, both of which are aerodynamic levers engineers utilize to optimize laminar airflow (the airflow that is smooth and consistent) while mitigating turbulent airflow, which is highly unsteady and unpredictable.


The stakes are high in Super Bowl LII and the crossover segment, but both GMC and Wilson feel confident they’ll score.

One thought on “Innovation Examples From General Motors

  1. Pingback: Yes, Working at GM is Great Fun! | 3danim8's Blog

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