Four years in the kitchen and now hot out of the oven, Domino's new purpose-built pizza delivery vehicle hits the streets with design attributes that were solicited from online crowdsourcing.
More than 380 online renderings for the new DXP were submitted to a vehicle design contest hosted by Local Motors, the company that built the world’s first 3D-printed car. In addition to the hundreds of concepts that were uploaded to the competition website, pizza delivery drivers and Domino's franchise owners had suggestions for an efficient and customized delivery vehicle.
Like any hungry horde debating pepperoni or extra cheese, everyone who tossed their ideas into this project had an opinion. But the notion of using an all-new vehicle platform was simply impractical. Thus the modified 2015 Chevrolet Spark LT underpinning the DXP.
“You’re talking about a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of engineering resources [to do a bespoke vehicle],” Kenneth Baker, the former General Motors R&D chief, told Automotive Engineering. Baker led a development team from contract engineering firm Roush Enterprises for this project. The vehicle was unveiled October 21 at Domino's Ann Arbor, MI, world headquarters by Domino's USA President Russell Weiner.
“This is not a gimmick. This is not the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile,” quipped Weiner. “This is a team that got together four years ago and has spent millions of dollars and tons of time to create a purpose-built vehicle.”
The DXP features a driver’s-side rear access door for a warming oven and storage racks for up to 80 pizzas. During the conversion process, the Spark’s rear load floor is replaced with a custom load floor that provides 35 ft3 (1 m3) of stowage space.
“The actual engineering part was much like a regular up-fit engineering specialty program," Baker explained. "We had the production facility, a production line, and the service and support infrastructure in place before the first car went to market.”
According to Gregory Fraker, Vice President of Roush Product Programs, the DXP's bill of material includes 176 new parts beyond that of the standard Spark, 107 being unique designs and 69 being off-the-shelf items.
“We designed, tooled, and produce all the DXP’s plastic components. All the exterior parts are injected-molded, painted ABS automotive-quality plastic, and that includes the exterior pizza door and the surround that it mates to,” said Fraker.
Workers at Roush’s Livonia, MI, facility can build five DXP vehicles a day; the initial planned production run is 98 cars. Domino's franchise owners are the initial exclusive customer base for the new vehicle, which is priced at $20,000 to $25,000 depending on equipment level.
While Roush technical specialists typically work on high-volume vehicle programs, Fraker said his company is "able to produce parts in lower volumes at economies that can make sense for a project like this." He noted that the DXP build requires 30 different metal forming, injection, and thermoform tools.
“We used quite a few 3D printed prototype parts for solid-model checks/validation before we cut tools,” said Fraker.
The Spark chassis, drivetrain, and body structure are essentially untouched during the DXP conversion, according to Baker. “We tried to keep all of that the same to keep the engineering, validation, and tooling costs manageable,” he said.