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Old 02-11-2013, 05:11 PM   #1
warpath
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Default VW Group's MQB “Mega-Platform” is a Huge Game Changer for the Auto Industry

Carscoop: http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2013/02...huge-game.html









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It’s been a year since the Volkswagen Group revealed its brand-new MQB platform (“Modularer Querbaukasten”, which is German for Modular Transverse Matrix) to the world.
This new architecture, which debuted on the third-gen Audi A3, will not be used only for the group’s C-segment cars, like the VW Golf, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia etc. but in other categories as well. In fact, it may be the German group’s biggest weapon in achieving its goal to become the number one manufacturer globally, outselling current leader Toyota, by 2018 – or even sooner.

The “global car”, i.e. the same design that can be sold, with minor modifications, in all world markets is something touted from time to time by many manufacturers. Yet, VW is the first automaker that may actually achieve it thanks to Ulrich Hackenberg, an auto engineer who had reportedly pitched his idea to other manufacturers until VW eventually bought it.

The basic principle is simple: build an architecture that’s flexible enough to accommodate anything, from a supermini like the Polo to a seven-seat SUV like the one VW will introduce in the U.S. market in 2015. This is more than just the chassis, though, as it concerns a common component strategy far beyond anything ever implemented until now.

IHS Consulting managing director Michael Robinet says that the MQB platform “could be the single most important automotive initiative of the past 25 years. It really changes the game.”

Robinet's company estimates that VW’s plan is to increase its global sales to 10 million units or more, with nearly two out of three cars sold (6.3 billion) being built on the MQB platform.

Rivals have certainly taken notice of this new strategy. “We’d be crazy not to”, a senior Ford official told Reuters, while a Toyota executive conceded that “there’s no doubt we’ve fallen behind. We have not even begun to make the fundamental structural changes that VW has”. Both spoke on anonymity terms due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

Both analysts and the auto industry believe that the MQB could prove to be as revolutionary as Henry Ford’s production line or Toyota's “just-in-time” system. VW has been working on it since 2007 and, along with its implementation over the next four years, its investment will reach nearly US$70 billion. Considering that Morgan Stanley estimates it will result in annual gross savings of US$19 billion by 2019, that’s money well spent.

Since the MQB is designed for models with a transversely-mounted engine, VW also has two other aces up its sleeve: the MLB platform, for models with longitudinally-mounted engines, and the MSB, for premium rear- and all-wheel drive models from Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley and, probably, Audi too.

So that makes a total of three modular platforms, each designed from the outset to use a huge set of common components and be able to accommodate gasoline, diesel and even hybrid powertrains.

"Modular platforms have grown beyond the technology (alone) to become a management tool which helps support the brands' development. The toolkits help the brands to preserve their character and sharpen their individuality", said Hackenberg, who is now the development chief for the Volkswagen brand.

There’s only one risk: the huge volumes of common components also mean that, if there is a fault in a certain part, it will result in a huge global recall campaign; one that may make even the one implemented by Toyota look tame in comparison.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:19 PM   #2
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As soon as the other manufacturers pick this concept up, I expect small/medium car prices to decrease significantly. Anybody know if this MQB architecture allows for different car widths? If it doesn't, America may still get unique models because our people are so big and everyone else's roads are so small.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C4RBON_F1BER View Post
As soon as the other manufacturers pick this concept up, I expect small/medium car prices to decrease significantly. Anybody know if this MQB architecture allows for different car widths? If it doesn't, America may still get unique models because our people are so big and everyone else's roads are so small.
Which makes me leery about this venture - it sounds brilliant on paper and in practice as long as everything is going right. But there are also some very distinct problems they might face that they alluded to in the article:

1. Global recalls - What's the marketing impact when VW puts out a memo indicating that every single car model from VW, Audi, and Skoda has to be recalled for some dealership refit? And how are they going to find the manpower to do it all globally?

2. Heavy reliance on your Supply-Chain - This puts a lot of reliance on very large manufacturers of parts for your vehicle, especially if they're sourcing 35 million orders of widgets from a manufacturer instead of 7 million. If that manufacturer fails in some way (delays, bankruptcy, faulty parts) then you're talking about a global delay in processing, with almost zero chance of sourcing those parts from another large manufacturer quickly. That manufacturer can also charge you more for those parts if they have that stranglehold on your product lines.

3. Inherent design flaws - By standardizing everything it can be easy to fall into the category of "bland". If the base construction can't be changed, then what happens if reviewers consistently dub your car as having terrible steering feel, poor weight-transition, etc. across your entire line.

Those are just three things that came to mind - I think standardization is great from a cost perspective and usually does lower overall costs, but has a detrimental effect on vehicle lines that you *want* to stress individuality and personality.

Interesting to see what comes of it!
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manticus View Post
Which makes me leery about this venture - it sounds brilliant on paper and in practice as long as everything is going right. But there are also some very distinct problems they might face that they alluded to in the article:

1. Global recalls - What's the marketing impact when VW puts out a memo indicating that every single car model from VW, Audi, and Skoda has to be recalled for some dealership refit? And how are they going to find the manpower to do it all globally?

2. Heavy reliance on your Supply-Chain - This puts a lot of reliance on very large manufacturers of parts for your vehicle, especially if they're sourcing 35 million orders of widgets from a manufacturer instead of 7 million. If that manufacturer fails in some way (delays, bankruptcy, faulty parts) then you're talking about a global delay in processing, with almost zero chance of sourcing those parts from another large manufacturer quickly. That manufacturer can also charge you more for those parts if they have that stranglehold on your product lines.

3. Inherent design flaws - By standardizing everything it can be easy to fall into the category of "bland". If the base construction can't be changed, then what happens if reviewers consistently dub your car as having terrible steering feel, poor weight-transition, etc. across your entire line.

Those are just three things that came to mind - I think standardization is great from a cost perspective and usually does lower overall costs, but has a detrimental effect on vehicle lines that you *want* to stress individuality and personality.

Interesting to see what comes of it!
Very well voiced problems that may occur with this.


I second the "good on paper" notion, as it is just so large of a liability having one global architecture.
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:00 AM   #5
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So someone finally caught on to the idea Subaru implemented by basing nearly everything off the 1989 Legacy chassis (except their Kei cars).
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Old 02-13-2013, 04:25 PM   #6
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/\

So I'm not the only one reading this as "platform sharing" and "parts bin"

As for spec parts, you can order 35 million of the same widgets from multiple suppliers (5 suppliers at 7million widgets ea)
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:53 PM   #7
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I don't understand. In terms of real-world applications, how is this any different than a modern K car platform?
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:49 PM   #8
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I thought the newset GTI used this?
that's how they dropped 200lbs.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:56 AM   #9
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I don't understand. In terms of real-world applications, how is this any different than a modern K car platform?
Except for the distance between the front axle and the pedals, all dimensions including width are variable. That means this platform spans from subcompact to midsize, and VW is planning to use it for 40 different models.

Beyond that, all engines (gas, diesel, CNG, hybrids) will have the exhaust on the firewall side and be mounted in the same location, at the same angle, so all those different cars, regardless of the powertrain, will have one bell housing bolt pattern.

The same is true for other sub-assemblies, and by having production equipment that's also variable in the same dimension, the robot that installs the dashboard in a Passat can also do it for a Polo, and they can essentially replicate the same production line all over the world.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manticus View Post
Which makes me leery about this venture - it sounds brilliant on paper and in practice as long as everything is going right. But there are also some very distinct problems they might face that they alluded to in the article:

1. Global recalls - What's the marketing impact when VW puts out a memo indicating that every single car model from VW, Audi, and Skoda has to be recalled for some dealership refit? And how are they going to find the manpower to do it all globally?

2. Heavy reliance on your Supply-Chain - This puts a lot of reliance on very large manufacturers of parts for your vehicle, especially if they're sourcing 35 million orders of widgets from a manufacturer instead of 7 million. If that manufacturer fails in some way (delays, bankruptcy, faulty parts) then you're talking about a global delay in processing, with almost zero chance of sourcing those parts from another large manufacturer quickly. That manufacturer can also charge you more for those parts if they have that stranglehold on your product lines.

3. Inherent design flaws - By standardizing everything it can be easy to fall into the category of "bland". If the base construction can't be changed, then what happens if reviewers consistently dub your car as having terrible steering feel, poor weight-transition, etc. across your entire line.

Those are just three things that came to mind - I think standardization is great from a cost perspective and usually does lower overall costs, but has a detrimental effect on vehicle lines that you *want* to stress individuality and personality.

Interesting to see what comes of it!
Good points, but I think having a standard platform allows them to put all their engineering resources to making that one platform outstanding versus compromising more on multiple platforms.

I'm sure they will design the platform for their highest end model range. Therefore because they are standard, buyers will also get a terrific lower end model.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:14 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondaslayer View Post
/\

So I'm not the only one reading this as "platform sharing" and "parts bin"
Yea they're just implementing it on probably the biggest scale ever. I hope there's no big recalls, hah.

Quote:
As for spec parts, you can order 35 million of the same widgets from multiple suppliers (5 suppliers at 7million widgets ea)
Right, it's best to have multiple sources for every single part possible also. Competition to drive prices down, and security in case of supplier issues. I'm sure VW is a killer with this.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:20 AM   #12
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I see this as a great attempt to revolutionize things. It may be wonderful, it may prove disasterous. But other car companies, like infiniti, Subaru, etc have done this on a smaller scale and it works. If the inherent chassis is solid, you can bolt on suspension to make it almost anything reasonable.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:04 PM   #13
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If this strategy produces a modern microbus, please yes and thank you.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:02 PM   #14
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If this strategy produces a modern microbus, please yes and thank you.
Wouldn't a FWD Microbus pretty much be just a minivan? Or are you saying more in terms of just having it styled as a retro Microbus?
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:32 PM   #15
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Yeah!
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