As a mother of two young children, General Motors engineer Michell Shippy understands how therapeutic a quiet drive on the road can be. She took into account this personal experience when helping to design the interior cabin of the all-new 2015 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. The SUV offers interior quietness that makes it a pleasure to drive.
We spoke with Michell to learn more about the enhancements engineers made to advance quietness in the all-new Yukon.
Fastlane: Can you tell us about your role with GM, and on this particular project?
Michell Shippy: I am one of two wind noise development engineers working for General Motors’ full size truck team. As such, I’m responsible for identifying and eliminating wind noise in all of our SUVs and pick-up trucks.
Prior to building the 2015 GMC Yukon, our noise team analyzed mathematical data to find potential sources of environmental noise. Part of the discovery process required we test vehicles on the open road and inside of a wind tunnel, using a giant fan that can produce up to 75 tons of air pressure. In both cases, our team listened attentively for noise entering the vehicle’s cabin. We also collaborated with design engineers to develop solutions to ensure drivers can arrive at their destinations with minimum distraction.
FL: Can you talk about some of the driving factors behind or goals with noise levels in the all-new 2015 GMC Yukon?
MS: The driving factor behind my team’s efforts was the desire to produce something very refined and great for drivers. In cooperation with the design team, our noise development team painstakingly analyzed every aspect of the 2015 Yukon to ensure its ride quietness. These aspects include – but are not limited to – the vehicle’s body size, exterior mirror shapes and various acoustic elements. We made sure that no stone was left unturned.
FL: Can you tell us about some of the challenges along the way?
MS: The biggest challenge involved balancing vehicle costs and production of the vehicle itself. Careful planning went into ensuring a quiet vehicle without incurring unnecessary costs. By being engaged very early into the program, we were able to execute changes that enabled us to better seal the vehicle before any tooling was manufactured. This established the foundation for ride quietness in the 2015 Yukon. Our team was able to avoid making costly late changes to the vehicle, which provided us with more time to spend on tweaking the details.
FL: How do you see this quiet interior environment evolving or expanding on future vehicles?
MS: The Yukon customer expects a quiet and refined vehicle interior. They want to drive in peace, without any unnecessary distractions – and that’s what they’re provided with in the new model. A quiet cabin does nothing but enhance the driving experience, and I think others are starting to recognize this. As in-car technologies, such as Bluetooth and internet continue to expand, I see a broadening of this concept.
FL: What are some other things the Noise and Vibration team are working on? Is there anything surprising or unique in store for drivers that you can fill us in on?
MS: We’re always working on new and better ways of isolating noise, but we will keep those plans under wraps until they’re ready to be revealed. So please stay tuned!
Michell Shippy is the performance engineer for noise, vibration and wind noise at General Motors. She has been working on wind noise of GM’s full size trucks since 2005.