Case | HBS Case Collection | November 1990 (Revised April 1999)

General Motors: Packard Electric Division

by Steven C. Wheelwright


Packard Electric is the division of General Motors (GM) that does all of the electrical wiring and cabling for GM automobiles. They developed a new approach for passing the cables through the firewall between the engine and passenger compartments. The new technology called the RIM (Reaction Injection Molded) grommet, was supported heavily by the product development group because it was simpler to design and improved the leak seat. Process development was against using it because it cost more, complicated the manufacturing process, and provided only minor improvements in leak resistance. The students must analyze the risk in continuing with the project, the potential benefits from product simplification and the potential benefits from improving the leak resistance. The students must also review the product development process to determine conflicts before they reach a crisis.

Keywords: Business Divisions; Cost; Management Style; Product Design; Product Development; Production; Projects; Groups and Teams; Conflict and Resolution; Technology; Auto Industry;


Wheelwright, Steven C. "General Motors: Packard Electric Division." Harvard Business School Case 691-030, November 1990. (Revised April 1999.)