Whether Mother Nature throws scorching heat or snowflakes in the 2012 GMC Sierra's way, it is important the cabin temperature be adjusted to whatever passengers feel is appropriate. But sometimes cranking up the heater or the air conditioner is not the most efficient thing to do, and that's where GM's climate control engineers come in.
The engineering team has been working closely with Jeff Bozeman, whom they have dubbed as The Iceman. Bozeman's goal with the Sierra truck is to make passengers feel much warmer or cooler in the cabin without having them crank the heating and cooling system. Not only is he trying to make them more efficient, but also more comfortable.
"Maybe it's my Dutch heritage, but I'm hyper-focused on finding ways to improve driver and passenger comfort while using the absolute minimum amount of energy possible," said Bozeman.
The way he and his team go about this is by using a dummy to help determine where climate control air streams blast air where it's not needed. Monika, created by Bozeman and his team, is a mannequin that's wired with nickel-chromium sensors, letting engineers know precisely whether it's feeling hot or cold. A digital dummy is also used because Bozeman says it's a better physiological model of the human anatomy.
"We can better understand things like skin temperature and perspiration and can get a read on a wide range of shapes and sizes of GMC customers," he said.
When it comes to styling the Sierra's interior, engineers had to think efficiently without sacrificing the aesthetic appeal of the cabin. Some of these fuel-saving techniques include using targeted jets of air, similar to the ones found on airplanes.
Ultimately, Bozeman says, "Our job is to make the vehicle feel as good as it looks inside."