Volkswagen AG has to simplify engineering and production to reach its goal to become the best-selling carmaker in the world by 2018, according to Ulrich Hackenberg, VW's head of research and development.
Costs will be cut by 20-30% with the use of the so-called MQB and MLB production processes through savings, not just horizontally across brands when using the same vehicle architecture, but vertically across various segments too. For instance, a VW CrossPolo subcompact would have about the same steering column module as a bigger Audi A3 cabrio.
In a Reuters’ interview, Hackenberg said that the Strategy 2018 can’t be successful “without the resulting savings in material costs, investments and production.”
The funds that had been freed up will be poured in investments in new models and powertrains to cope with the more stringent environmental standards in the European Union. Next year's Audi A3 is the first model to be equipped with the MQB toolkits, which would later involve a total group volume of 3.5 million vehicles each year.
The existing model uses the Golf platform. When talking about the Golf's turn to start using the MQB, Hackenberg said that it will start to make the required changes at the end of 2011 for the production at the Audi plant in Ingolstadt.
The main VW plant in Wolfsburg will follow. The savings are expected to significantly climb due to the new engineering and production process but this also raises the risk of having possibly defective components since they are used in 3.5 million vehicles.
This is comparable to around 1 million vehicles presently built on VW's largest platform, the PQ35 architecture that the current Golf uses.