Where once Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. spent 29 months to develop a vehicle after the design was finalized, today the Tokyo automaker spends just 15 months. Speaking at the University of Michigan at the behest of its Transportation Institute and the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation earlier this week, Shigeru Takagi, senior vice president for Nissan's vehicle production engineering division, says the reduction resulted from efforts that began five years ago on a series of fronts. Those fronts include improved engineering drawings, compression of manufacturing tooling development, and high initial prototype quality. Implementing repeated digital design reviews improved drawing quality and erased more than six months from the development process, he said. Extensive use of three-dimensional CAD/CAM technology cut another four and one-half months from the process, and streamlining engineering and manufacturing operations carved out an additional three months. Takagi reported that in addition to being able to meet changing customer demands more quickly, Nissan's approach has led to a 40% reduction in both its production engineering launch costs and its capital investment.