The latest victim is a silver Lexus RX 400h hybrid SUV, which will soon be just a pile of parts categorized alongside a 2006 Mercedes ML350, VW Touareg plus several Chryslers, Hondas, BMWs and Fords. When GM was developing its new CTS, a BMW 3-series was the benchmark to which most of the specifications had to meet. Nothing is left untouched. Stereos, seat padding, bumpers, everything you can conceivably think of goes under inspection.
GM isn't the only car maker that reverse engineers competitor vehicles. A rising trend, especially amongst Chinese automakers is the blatant copying of designs without any credit given to the original manufacturer, but this is clearly illegal in most regions. The auto industry is not alone in practising the art of competitive teardowns. It’s been going on in the electronics industry for decades. There’s even a website, Portelligent, that’s dedicated to publishing teardown details of popular electronic equipment referred to as “technology intelligence.”