BMW and Mercedes-Benz are cutting the number of their vehicle architecture to speed development as well as reduce costs. Herbert Diess, board member for r&d at BMW, disclosed that from the current five platforms, BMW and Mini will use only two architectures -- one for front-wheel drive and another for rear-wheel drive.
The BMW i3 electric and i8 plug-in hybrid, however, are not part of the architecture consolidation. Thomas Weber, head of worldwide r&d for Mercedes-Benz, disclosed that the carmaker’s vehicles will be underpinned by four architectures, down from nine five years ago. Common architectures enable vehicles to share parts and assembly equipment.
Weber said that savings from consolidation "are huge," adding that it would also improve quality. Weber also noted that shared platforms will allow them to significantly cut the time to market for new and redesigned models. "You will see how many vehicles we can now bring to market. It would not be possible without this approach," Weber said.
Diess, meanwhile, said that new BMW Group platforms are the only affordable way to expand the Mini and BMW ranges. "We could not have such a product portfolio if we had not established architectures for our front-wheel Mini and smaller BMWs and the rear-wheel-drive architecture," he remarked.
BMW's new fwd architecture made its debut with the redesigned Mini Cooper hardtop that will be rolled out in the United States in March. It will then underpin the BMW 2-series Active Tourer wagon recently unveiled at the Geneva auto show. It will be rolled out in Europe in October, but will not arrive in the United States for at least another 15 months, according to BMW executives. [source: automotive news - sub. required]