Virtual crash tests? Playing tech catch-up, GM announces $130-million supercomputer and data project

 GM IT Data Center

General Motors has been promising two state-of-the-art IT facilities for some time now. On May 13, it finally announced it’s going to break ground on one of them this summer. The enterprise data center is expected to cost GM some $130-million and bring it up to speed in terms of streamlined data collection.

“It’s part of an overarching strategy to transform not only information technology but also allow GM’s business operations to be more responsive to our customers, quicker to market and deliver on our objectives to shareholders,” said Randy Mott, GM vice president and CIO in a GM press release.

We realize a lot of that sounds like meaningless buzz jargon so we’ll cut to the chase. Here’s what the GM data center will do:

–       Simulate crash tests inside a supercomputer, saving the company some $350,000 each time an in-the-flesh crash test can be executed virtually.

–       Better track customer buying habits and trade-in markets/branding.

–       Allow GM to pay parts suppliers more simply with improved production timeframes.

The latter two, we’ll be honest, sound like mundane no-brainers. Yes, paying your suppliers easier will be better. And, yes, tracking your buyers’ showroom habits will improve marketing and the showroom experience.

The bit we really like, however, is the simulated crash tests. Just like the other tech systems, it will help the GM’s bottom line but it could also improve vehicle safety for us customers.

If we’re not mistaken, though, the simulated crash test supercomputer will effectively catch GM up with the rest of the automotive industry. A lot of crash test trade secrets are, well, secret, so it’s hard to say with certainty if they will reach parity with, say, Volvo, European vendors and the big Asian carmakers. We’ve investigate further with a GM rep so check back for more answers soon.