Finite element methods can be used to simulate a class of variation problems induced by build distortion in the assembly process. The FEM approach was used to study two representative assembly problems: 1) Front fender mounting and resulting distortion due to various fastening sequences; and, 2) Coupe door assembly process and resulting deformation due to clamping and welding of flexible sheet metal parts. FEM is used to generate sensitivities of various process conditions. Correlation with measured Co-ordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) data is shown.The use of FEM to simulate manufacturing/assembly processes in the automotive industry is in it's infancy. As the new methods are developed this capability can be used to study the assembly process and provide guidance in designing more robust parts and assembly processes.