How are completely new cars designed? According to a new book, Mopar Minivans, there can be a lot of arguments, postponements, and even rejections before a vehicle’s time finally comes. Even then, engineers, designers, and executives can still argue over specifics—and launch timing can made all the difference in how it’s engineered.
The book uses minivans as an example of the new-niche-car development process. They were begun in the early 1970s, as were similar projects at GM and Ford. Because they would need an entirely new body, chassis, engine, and suspension, they didn’t get the go-ahead for quite some time; it took an erratic but brilliant leader to throw his weight behind the project and make it happen. Even then, many people had to keep pushing it forward to get it to that spot, and then on the road.
It’s harder to get a project like a minivan going than a sexy vehicle like a sports car, full-blooded off-road conquerer, muscle car, or, in short, anything that makes the front covers of magazines. It’s even harder to sell books about the process of creating these projects! But Mopar Minivans illustrates the product-development process of an ever-changing Chrysler Corporation/Chrysler Group/FCA US very well.
The book is issued by BusiStories (bulk discounts available) and available at Amazon for $19.84, and (in a “value edition” with visibly screened images) Barnes & Noble for $16.99. The eBook is in Kindle format only, at $4.40, from Amazon.
The author of Dodge Viper, Jeep’s Wagoneer, Gladiator, Comanche, and Scrambler Go-Anywhere Vehicles, and The Rise and Reinvention of Chrysler Minivans, David Zatz has been writing about cars and trucks since the early 1990s; he also writes on organizational development and business at toolpack.com and covers Mac statistics software at macstats.org. His latest book, for kids, is Meet the Jeep.
David has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. You can reach him by using our contact form.