The new Acura TLX has just gone into production in Marysville, Ohio. It's a much faster car to build than the outgoing model, with a stiffer chassis and sharper panel creases. [credit: Acura ]
Every industry has its own yardsticks—ways that competitors can measure up against each other to see who's best. In the automotive-manufacturing world, a great way to do that is to let your body panels do the talking. Precise panel gaps are one way to do that, for example. And now that everyone has pretty much mastered the art of curves, the trend du jour is for adding sharp creases and folds. The latest Acura TLX sedan, which just went into production in Marysville, Ohio, is a good example of that.
"Our hood has a new technology called sharp edge," explained Ken Sheridan, associate chief engineer at Honda of America's Marysville factory (Honda is Acura's parent company). "The radius on those styling lines—usually they're like a five millimeter radius. In this case, they're really sharp. They're a 2.5 millimeter radius, and they come all the way into the bumper on the top of the car. It's a big thing because our whole concept is this precision-crafted performance.
"It's always a challenge once you have all this accuracy and then you put these aluminum comps—we have aluminum fenders and aluminum hoods—into our oven at about 450 degrees, and then stuff starts wants to start moving," Sheridan told me. "So we actually developed special fixturing for that to keep it at a nominal position after it's basically soaked in our oven."