Designing and Engineering the Third-Generation Cadillac LYRIQ with Jamie Brewer
Jamie Brewer is the Vehicle Chief Engineer of Future Electric Vehicles at General Motors, including the Cadillac LYRIQ. She has been an integral part of the General Motors team since 2000, working her way from Vehicle Performance Engineer to Director and Global BOM Leader of Garnish, Overhead Systems, Carpet, Acoustics, and Trunk Trim.
Jamie graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and has an MBA from Oakland University.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
What drove Jamie Brewer to engineering
Factors to consider when engineering an electric car
Jamie's responsibility in the design and engineering of Cadillac cars
What does it take to become a vehicle chief engineer?
Jamie talks about her responsibilities, including dealing with suppliers, visiting supply bases, and building vehicle test models
What is a third-generation electric car?
What the Cadillac LYRIQ means for General Motors’ Cadillac brand
What GM's engineers considered when designing the front of the car, its interior, and its skateboard
Jamie's advice to future engineers
In this episode…
What’s the first step towards becoming an engineer? Whether you’re becoming an electrical, mechanical, or automotive engineer, the answer is typically going to school. According to Jamie Brewer, your path to engineering starts much earlier than that.
Engineers start their journey as curious kids dismantling and reassembling the things laying around their parent's house. This is driven by their natural curiosity and desire for constant learning, which Jamie says is essential for success in the engineering profession.
Jamie Brewer, the Vehicle Chief Engineer of Future Electric Vehicles at General Motors, is Aharon Horwitz's guest in this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, where they talk about all things engineering and the production of General Motors’ Cadillac LYRIQ. They also discuss the things you need to consider while engineering an electric car, what it takes to become a vehicle chief engineer, and what the Cadillac LYRIQ means for the Cadillac brand.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
Sponsor for this episode...
This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.
Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.
Visit their website at www.autoleadstar.com to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.
Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you'd want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.
Aharon Horwitz 0:15
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the next episode of InsideAuto. We're so excited to have you. I'm super excited about our guest this week. But first let me introduce us and before we introduce today's guests, as you know I'm Aharon Horwitz, host of InsideAuto Podcast where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs, OEM folks, thought leaders in and out of the auto industry. My co-host, Ilana, is not here this week. But she'll do that next week.
Before we introduce today's guest, this episode is sponsored by AutoLeadStar. The AutoLeadStar platform is built on a technology so powerful, it allows you to market, sell, and service cars as you would in the real world at scale and online, making one to one matches between shoppers and inventory. AutoLeadStar is the only platform that is powered by scale, speed, and specificity to change the way dealers do marketing. Well, I'm someone who works with engineers, I work with computer engineers, computer science folks, rarely do I have the pleasure of speaking to an engineer of any kind of real world devices. But that's what we have here with us today in the form of Jamie Brewer.
Jamie, welcome. Hi, thank you so much for having me. Oh, we're so happy to have you. Many of you may know this. But Jamie is the chief engineer of the Cadillac LYRIQ. And she has an amazing background. She worked on the Volt. She worked on other products within the Cadillac universe. And she's leading every single aspect of the LYRIQ's development. And as everyone knows, the LYRIQ is one of Cadillac's most exciting new releases, a new product release, and we're going to hear all about it from Jamie. But Jamie, before we get into the LYRIQ and Cadillac, tell me first how you ended up engineering cars. For, for us, for those of us who drive them, I know you went to you had an undergrad you are now University of Michigan, right? You study engineering there?
Jamie Brewer 2:07
I did. I did. So you know, when I was growing up in high school, I was just very, I guess interested to learn, I guess is a good way to put it. I always wanted to know how things work. I always wanted to know why they work that way. And so I spent a lot of time taking the household appliances apart and figuring them out and trying to put them back together.
Aharon Horwitz 2:31
And it's like when my son completely takes apart something in our house.
Jamie Brewer 2:34
That's awesome. You should encourage that. In the back of my head, oh, this could lead to good engineering. Yeah, my parents, you know, I took the vacuum cleaner pirate, as long as I could put it back together. They were good with that.
Aharon Horwitz 2:48
And I always forget after listening to this, do not take apart your parents.
Jamie Brewer 2:54
But it's that desire to learn and that desire to understand why that really prompts a lot of young people to go into engineering because that's what engineering is. It's really that critical thinking and that constant desire to learn new and interesting things and new technology. So yeah, I ended up deciding to
Aharon Horwitz 3:16
start as a kid and my school and
Jamie Brewer 3:19
high school and then I went and decided to go to University of Michigan and enter the mechanical engineering program there. Then I got my mechanical engineering degree through the U of M. I loved it, loved the experience, loved everything that I learned there. And when I was the summer after my sophomore year at U of M, I actually had an opportunity to do an internship with General Motors, a mathematics career fair. We hit it off as an opportunity to come in and do an internship. And that was back in the summer of 1998. And I've been with GM ever since I did two internships and a co op, did the co op during my last semester my senior year at college and then started working for GM directly after that. And I've had a number of different assignments and positions within GM over the last 20 plus years and continue to learn every single day. Yeah, I saw you were on the volt back in the day. Yeah, I was actually the seat engineer. So I was designing. Yeah, that was
Aharon Horwitz 4:27
I feel like that car was a bit of a breakthrough. Really, it was kind of risky, it was pretty risky. Um, so you engineer the seats?
Jamie Brewer 4:38
I did. I injured the seats on that vehicle. And, and it's funny because you think about it, you're like, well, that's not really it doesn't really have anything to do with the fact that it was an electric vehicle but but when you're working in an electric vehicle, every single part of the vehicle has to comprehend the fact that it's an electric vehicle when you talk about mass savings when you talk about your energy draw, you know when you look at things like heat seats versus a cooled seats and what type of mechatronics the seats have available to them? And what type of current draw does that take? What does that mean to the overall range of the vehicle? I mean, even partially what you don't think of as electric vehicle parts, when you're engineering an electric vehicle are really important to think about and consider as far as the overall impacts of the system.
Aharon Horwitz 5:20
So do you have a roll up model where you could kind of sum up all the draws on the electricity? And yes, because that's so cool. Sounds like it must be critical.
Jamie Brewer 5:28
It is. So you, it's really important that you look at not only the draw on the 400 volt system, right, our main battery source, the LTM system, but you also really need to be focused on your draws on the 12 volt system as well, because draws on the 12 volt system can also have an impact on range. So yes, we have full roll ups that we look at every feature, when and where is it turned on? And what driving cycle is it turned on? What does it draw? Right? And what does that do to the overall range? And again, you got to look at both,
Aharon Horwitz 6:01
I want to come back to the LYRIQ. And I want to also understand the kind of the generations and how it's evolved within GM. But before we get there, when I read your bio, I thought about the extent of the bet that GM or Cadillac, you know, as a brand make on every single vehicle, and I think of all the components that are involved in pulling together a vehicle. I mean, the responsibility must be unbelievable as the lead engineer, isn't it? I mean, it's, it's, it's insane. And so I just, I just curious, like, Did that were you like, did like the frog get boiled here, and you just kind of, you know, it just feels very normal to you like, yeah, I have, like, 10,000 moving parts that I have to track, you know, around the world of a global supply chain, and, you know, prophecies being engineered were, eventually essentially ultimate people's lives are gonna be in my hands as they drive these vehicles, right? Or that does that hit you frequently, that you have to, you have that much responsibility on your plate.
Jamie Brewer 7:04
I mean, it's definitely something that I do reflect on. But at the same time, I have an amazing team of engineers, there's 1000s, plural of very talented engineers, that each have their own portion of this big huge jigsaw puzzle, right. And part of my job is to make sure that I've got the right people with the right expertise in the right jobs, and then I have to trust them. And I learned from them every day, right, there is no way that a chief engineer can be an expert in chassis and interiors in in vehicle crash and in infotainment. And you know, it's just not feasible. And if you're trying, if you're expecting yourself to do that, then that's just, that's not a realistic expectation. But what you do need to be able to do is understand who the right experts are within the company, to own those various spaces. And then you need to be there for them to help guide, help make decisions and help move the vehicle forward, and then bring it all together at the end of the day, all the different functions together into one cohesive vehicle. And that's really what you do as a chief engineer. So when you think about it, the way you phrased it, yes, it can seem daunting, but at the same time, I honestly believe I've got the best team in the world working on this vehicle, and I trust them explicitly.
Aharon Horwitz 8:23
And I saw that, by the way, I totally identify with that, you know, we're a much smaller operation, but it's the same, it's the same principle. I mean, there's no way beyond a certain phase where you can understand everything that's happening or be involved in everything and nor should you be in all in the end, it does come down to the team, I did notice that you'd been around the vehicle meaning you had I saw one of your specialties with bumpers, another you done something with overall got it was it was it um, garnished? I mean, so it seems like you sort of, at various different stages of your career own different pieces of the vehicle? Is there sort of a kind of a critical piece that one would have to have experience on to become a chief engineer? Or could you have done chassis and wheels and not have done your exterior interior, have you?
Jamie Brewer 9:16
Yeah, I think, um, so you've talked to 20 different chief engineers at GM Bay, there's 20 different career paths that they took, right. So there is not one specific path that gets you to be a chief engineer. But to your point, you do want a diversified background, you want to have seen multiple pieces and parts of the vehicle. So I mean, I've done vehicle performance out at our Milford Proving Grounds. I do think that that is a really critical role, because you see how all the various subsystems interact, and you have a very customer focus on the vehicle and you really look at the total vehicle from what it would be. How would a customer react to the vehicle? So I do think that's important. And then you want to get some different subsystem experience. I've spent a lot of time in interiors. A lot of time in interiors, I've spent time in chassis and I've spent time in body. And so you have different views of the vehicle from different angles. And that that really does help that combined with an understanding that vehicle integration, I think is, you know, those are some of the key experiences, I would say. But again, he talked to 20 different chief engineers, you'll see 20 different career paths.
Aharon Horwitz 10:22
Do you ever get to go out? And like, I don't know, go see all this, go see the supply chain, and it's rude. Oh, absolutely. Okay, so you, you'll go to, I don't know, Thailand to see something there. And then you'll fly to France to see something that is that? Is that part of your role?
Jamie Brewer 10:38
Yeah, I would say especially right now, with the global pandemic, there has not been the international travel that there typically would have been my role prior to this role, when I was a director for subsystem teams. And that's when I had like garnish tonight, overhead systems and cargo systems. And basically, interior trim, I would say, I spent more time in that role, visiting the supply base, walking the assembly lines, looking at efficiency opportunities, because in that space, you own that subsystem, and you own the strategy and the execution of that subsystem. In my space, I, as a chief engineer, now, I do communicate a lot with the suppliers. But I don't spend as much time on the ground at the suppliers as I am, you know, my peers do that own the subsystem scope.
Aharon Horwitz 11:26
Very interesting. It's just fascinating to figure out how these end products get built, and how they all come together. And they come together at scale, which is, I think, also, probably one of the more interesting parts of the job, it just seems like such an exciting and interesting role. Do you get a chance to AI? Let me ask generally about GM or OEMs? Or more generally, do you have a chance to build test models and have actual people drive them and see what the experience and the feedback is? Or does that all have to happen? on computers? Like, could you actually produce a full LYRIQ? And have someone drive it and then sit and watch them and see what happens?
Jamie Brewer 12:10
all the time? Yeah, I mean, I, I spend pretty much every Thursday, at a minimum, I'm out at our mill for proving grounds, driving our pre production LYRIQ, on taking him through the ride and handling loop or taking them through the noise course, you know, eastwest, straightaway, we're looking at acceleration performance off the line, we're doing all sorts of different tests. And so we have a whole group of people out at The Proving Grounds that just work on our pre production properties, put them through their paces, iterate off of them to make sure that we've got at the end of the day, all the right tuning elements together in one final package. So yeah, we do a lot in CIE or on the computer. Yeah, I would say the LYRIQ is probably one of the vehicles that has taken the most advantage of our computer aided engineering. Because we've advanced a lot as a company from a C perspective, but that doesn't completely eliminate the need to get into a vehicle here.
Aharon Horwitz 13:11
Yeah, for sure. And is it, um, I mean, let's talk about LYRIQ and Cadillac a little bit. So from what, from what I understand the ultium system, is that a GM wide platform for electric for electric for EBS, or is that a Cadillac specific system?
Jamie Brewer 13:29
No, it's company wide. So ultium is the platform basically for electric vehicle architectures. And it includes the battery systems, or what we call the rez through remote energy storage systems. It also includes the drive units, okay, it includes our integrated power electronics, and it's scalable. The best thing about the LTM system is it's very scalable, and it's very modular. So you can piece it together to handle anything from a small Chevrolet, all the way up to a Cadillac LYRIQ or, or even higher performance. Or the Hummer, if you will, the electric Hummer that's launching later this year, also operates off the ultium platform.
Aharon Horwitz 14:11
And so is there any Eevee that happens in GM, it's not an ultium.
Jamie Brewer 14:16
Ultium is starting with the Hummer. So if you look at our current electric vehicles, like the bolt, for example, your bolt is not off the LTM system. It's off our previous generation battery architecture.
Aharon Horwitz 14:29
Got it. And in this release. When you say third generation, what does that mean? That's a third generation vehicle.
Jamie Brewer 14:40
So it means it's an all new electric vehicle architecture. So when I say architecture, I'm talking about the underbody, the entire state where the vehicle right the underbody, the chassis components, from the ground up, this was a blank piece of paper. So if you think about GM history, we had a v1 and then we had the bolt which is off our secondary generation of EDI architecture. The LYRIQ is the first program to offer a third generation of EDI architecture. And that just means that we started with a clean sheet of paper. And we designed the vehicle architecture, specifically for the ultium battery system. So it was an integrated design where we designed the LTM and the vehicle architecture simultaneously from the ground.
Aharon Horwitz 15:24
Got it? And in terms of its role in Cadillac or what it's doing for the brand, kind of what is this? You know, what is this moment when you guys are putting this product out? And you know, it's so different? What does it mean for the brand? Would you say?
Jamie Brewer 15:39
Yeah, I mean, I think that's honestly one of the most exciting parts of this role, to me is, what this product means for the brand. I think that this product is really an opportunity for us to continue this journey of redefining Cadillac. And I think there has been so much commitment on the part of everybody that's worked on this program, because this is a very critical vehicle for the Cadillac brand, I really think that it's going to be a step function, really in the customer perception and the, you know, of the brand of Cadillac. And I think it's a bigger responsibility. And I think when you see this vehicle and you see the attention to detail, the design, the styling, which I'm sure you've seen images, but then you tied into we didn't cut any corners on technology, we didn't cut any corners on vehicle performance, either. It's all three. It's designed technology and performance all wrapped up in one. This is a very important vehicle for Cadillac.
Jamie Brewer 16:42
That's cool. Um, I have a picture of the 360 here. This is it. This is it looks like Yeah.
Aharon Horwitz 16:49
That's my baby. Nice looking car. Yeah, it is really your baby. So baby. Yeah. Oh, tell me I like to look at this girl, tell me that we're getting deep into Oh, I love that girl. It's a pretty cool front of the vehicles. Tell us about what you do when you're an engineer, when you're dreaming up this car and you look in, you're thinking about the front of this car. Tell us what goes in the mind of a chief engineer, when you think about the front of a car.
Jamie Brewer 17:14
You know, a lot of it is a partnership and a trust with the design studio. I mean, if you think about the grill, so an electric vehicle, right? Not that you don't need any cooling, because you do need some cooling, right, we do have some power electronics and such in the front, they need a certain amount of cooling, but you certainly don't need a full functioning grille like you would on an ice vehicle. Right? So what do you do with the front of the vehicle? Right? There was a lot of conversation around, what do you do? Well, we decided to make it a design element in the vehicle. And if you see that grille there, what that actually is, it's
Aharon Horwitz 17:49
By the way, on audio, we're looking at a 360 view of the new all electric Cadillac LYRIQ, the 2023, which will let you know how to learn more at the end. But I'm staring at this really striking looking grill. So okay, walk us through Jamie.
Jamie Brewer 18:06
So it's actually a PC grill, from a material perspective that we then have employed, employing a new technology on which they actually laser blade the backside of the grill. So it's a black grill, but then you laser blade those lines that you see. And then what we do is we backlight it. So the grill actually lights up from the back through those laser laser ablations. And then the nice thing about it is we can do different styles, right, we can have a different look between different trims, just based on the laser ablation pattern that we program into the robots on the grill and the lighting element of the grill and the lighting element of the badge, which is also a lit element. That is a big part of the choreography. But you'll notice as you walk up to the vehicle and the vehicle greets you and goes through a choreography sequence, the lighting and the grill on the badge along with our slimline LED headlamps that you see here. That that entire front end is really the dramatic piece of the vehicle as you walk up in agreed seal
Aharon Horwitz 19:11
is what's in the box. Is there a light down here that I see or is that just sort of part of this now that's just a reflection? Yeah. Okay, yeah. And then telling me for a minute in terms of by jumping inside here, again, we're we're deep, we're deep in the weeds here with cards off. For those who are listening. We're now looking at the interior. We're about to look at the interior of the LYRIQ here. What's like one thing that really stands out inside that you just think is really special?
Jamie Brewer 19:35
Oh, well, obviously the 33 inch diagonal advanced LED screen. I mean, that thing is just amazing. Right? And that is just going to be the first in the industry. What you're going to see from a color perspective from a pixel density perspective, I mean, it's just the graphics and the detail hill that you're going to see is going to be absolutely incredible. But when you go past that, and you look at just things like look at the center console and how it's kind of floating in space, and now you have that nice, big open area underneath it, no, because we don't have to manage a transmission, right, you don't have that tunnel area going through the center of the vehicle. Now, you have that big, beautiful open space that we can, we can do so much with both from a design perspective. But also from a storage perspective, it's those little things, we took advantage of the fact that it's a brand new architecture. And that to not allow any of that normal space that we don't have in a nice vehicle to go to waste, right.
Aharon Horwitz 20:42
And so the platform, meaning when we talk about that ultium platform, essentially what you're referring to is, is the battery and the drive the driving elements underneath, right? That's right. Everything above that is the LYRIQ in every way meaning it's, it's, it's that the next Evie that you guys do, like be a totally different structure on top. And it's the same.
Jamie Brewer 21:07
That's correct. Yeah. So really, the underbody of the vehicle and what we would call the skateboard, we will build several different pop hats on top of that for different architectures, but we will take advantage of the LTM platform in scale it either by the number of modules that we put in it, or if we use a rear drive unit, if we use a front drive unit, if we do two drive units, those are all the different scaling options that we have available to us now with the LTM.
Aharon Horwitz 21:36
Got it, that looks fantastic. And it's a it's awesome to talk to like the the artists, when you talk about piece of art, so we could tell from your passion and kind of the authority just from this conversation that you bring to talk about this car, then it's going to it's going to have a great reaction, I'm sure in the market. For those who are listening, go check it out. Um, so Jamie, before we kind of break, um, tell me a bit about I guess, you know, hearing you speak about your passion for or figuring things out the curiosity that you have your your journey in automotive, it, it is a moment to ask like if you're thinking about the the engineers of the future, right people who right now or maybe sharing a part of their parents back here in the assembly halfway. And you know, are you heading out thinking of a career? What's going to be different for them than maybe it was for you? And kind of what are those maybe forward looking or, or core skills that you would have in addition with what you think might be different for them? What do you recommend people kind of think about like one or two pieces of advice for folks coming up?
Jamie Brewer 22:53
Yeah, I mean, I think I think the number one piece of advice, if you're looking at getting into career in engineering, whether it be mechanical engineering, which is my background, or obviously, there's a lot of opportunity nowadays for software engineering, computer science, that sort of those sorts of fields as well. The first and most important piece of advice, I think, is to stay curious. If you want to be an engineer, you have to have that curiosity ingrained in you, right, you have to want to learn because going through engineering school, that's just that's the very beginning of your journey of learning, your entire career is learning. And you have to have an innate desire to learn to really be a very good engineer. So that would be the first thing. And the second thing I would say, you know, look hard even if you have a mechanical pendency. And mechanical engineering is still an incredibly important field to get into. But don't be afraid of digging into the software side as well in the electrical space as well, because more and more obviously, the world is being run through electro mechanics, I would say. So don't be afraid to Expand your horizon a little bit and dig in deeper into those areas as
Aharon Horwitz 24:11
well. Wonderful. I love it. Um, did you when you were in college? Did you have any, like the humanity side? Or were you all science and math? Um, just to get into such a great university, like, did you?
Jamie Brewer 24:27
You know, I definitely took the required liberal arts courses. But my focus was certainly on getting as many math and science courses in before I graduated as possible.
Aharon Horwitz 24:41
Yeah, no, I hear that. Alright, great. Well, this was really a pleasure. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to learn about what's coming out soon for Jamie and Cadillac. We're excited to maybe have you back at some point and we can talk about silly evolution, what you're seeing and maybe what you learn is up As the product goes to market, um, so thank you, Jamie Brewer, who is the chief engineer of the Cadillac LYRIQ. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me as a lot of fun listeners, Ilana is not here so I will do my best on this. You can find us on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple podcast wherever you get your podcast. Please do subscribe. Don't forget to subscribe, tell your friends about it inside auto and we always love to hear from you. Thanks, everybody.
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