2016 Honda Pilot Developed Without Prototypes

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

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.

SEE ALSO: 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.

Discuss this story on our Honda Pilot Forum

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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2 of 3 comments
  • Mike Mike on Aug 22, 2015

    Horrid styling. Looks just like an Odyssey. The first generation was much better looking. Huge disappointment.

  • Calibigfun Calibigfun on Aug 22, 2015

    The fact is both of you are wrong, as in this will sale like hot cakes and more so than the old boxy version. Families want exactly what Honda has made, a reliable 3 row SUV that resembles a mini-van. They don't care about hard plastics and they prefer dog riding a SUVs. Good job Honda, all the family and mom blogs I see rate the Pilot as one of the top SUV in the market.