This summer, Volkswagen AG will be introducing a modular platform which will ultimately be the basis of sedans, microcars, SUVs and crossovers for its four biggest brands, bringing a global-platform concept to a level unparalleled in the vehicle industry. While automobile manufacturers currently share platforms across brands and even segments, the initiative of VW is far more ambitious than anything seen so far.
Some analysts forecasted that by 2017, the MQB platform that debuts in the Audi A3 will ultimately will be utilized in 4 million units annually. This is almost half of VW's yearly production. The automaker stated that the plan will lower production time, reduce costs and boost the company's flexibility in adapting to market trends.
The MQB platform standardizes the distance between the pedal box and front axle. It also standardizes the position of the engine. The wheelbase, length and width can contract or expand depending on the model. Jeff Schuster, who is the senior vice president of forecasting at auto research firm LMC Automotive, commented that "it makes sense" in terms of cost and speed to market," but added that it is "a little bit of uncharted waters."
Some analysts also said that it is a novel concept at this scale and could be a liability in case of a massive recall. According to VW, the MQB platform will support at least 40 VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda models by 2017. The VW Golf and Audi A3 are the first vehicles built off the MQB. They will be launched for sale this year in the European region. For the U.S. market, they will be available for sale in 2013. All vehicle manufacturers are looking for ways to increase profits and lower manufacturing costs as they expand worldwide.