The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot was developed without any prototype models, an advancement that saved the automaker time and money.
Rather than developing separate tooling and equipment to build test models, Honda was able to do it all on the normal assembly line with production manufacturing equipment. To achieve this, engineers did more computer simulation work much earlier on in the development process. Overall, this shift saved Honda months of time and millions of dollars.
“We’ve brought it to production in a virtual world without any prototypes,” said Jeff Tomko, president of Honda Manufacturing Alabama, the assembly plant that builds the Pilot, Odyssey minivan, Ridgeline pickup and Acura MDX for all global markets.
“You know, Honda’s different from the domestic three,” Tomko explained. “We are still relatively new to this light-truck segment.” But they’re succeeding, and the new Pilot looks like it’ll be a winner.
2016 Honda Pilot Review
In addition to more computer simulation work, 3D printing also helped speed up development of the 2016 Pilot. One example of how this helped is that Honda printed a transparent instrument panel to help them route wires through the dashboard. This small step reduced the number of die changes needed and made it simpler to install the wires, which saved time.
Overall, Tomko said, “The all-new Pilot is easier to assemble, which is great for quality.” This is also good news for line workers who actually have to screw it together.
According to Tomko, the prototype-free development process was “successful beyond our high expectations,” so it’s likely Honda will continue to implement and refine it going forward.