By on April 3, 2008

cadillac_cimarron_pub_83.jpgThere's an interesting discussion taking place below the 2011 Audi A3 post from earlier today. I mentioned that for the money (figure right near $40K), I'd take a Subaru STI as opposed to an up-kitted A3 even with the V6, the AWD and the DSG. One of the main reasons is that when you boil the small Audi down, you're left with a VW Golf. Er, Rabbit. However, many of you argue, "so what?" And, as there are no stupid questions, so what indeed? Who cares what underpins the car. The A3 is (somehow) more than a Golf with a nice interior. By that logic, what was wrong with the Cadillac Cimarron? I'm being serious. GM took their basic economy car (Chevy Cavalier), added some leather and slapped some gold badges on the back. Pretty much what Audi does when turning a Rabbit into an A3. Yet one works, and one doesn't. I wonder why? You?

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57 Comments on “Question of the Day: Where Does Badge Engineering Stop and Platform Sharing Begin?...”


  • avatar
    Vega

    The A3 only uses the same axles, engines etc. but has not one piece of sheet metal and not one interior bit in common with the Golf. So it’s not the same. And that difference also happens to be the difference between badge engineering and platform sharing.

    Not that VW isn’t guilty of badge engineering. The old Passat and the first generation Skoda Superb come to mind…

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    If the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf are simply badge-engineered versione of the same car, then all of these cars must share the same fate, as they share the same platform:

    2003 Audi A3 (8P)
    2003 Volkswagen Touran
    2004 Volkswagen Caddy
    2004 SEAT Altea
    2004 VW Golf/VW R32/Rabbit Mk5
    2005 Skoda Octavia II
    2005 Volkswagen Golf Plus
    2005 SEAT Toledo III
    2006 VW Jetta/Vento/Bora V
    2006 SEAT León II
    2007 VW Eos
    2007 Audi TT II
    2008 Volkswagen Tiguan (compact crossover SUV)
    2010 Audi Q3

    And does the Volkswagen Touran pseudo-mpv have much in common with the Audi TT? Not? Well, then they are not badge-engineered, but platform-sharing. Audi A3 shares as much with the Golf as all of these cars share with each other. In my view, it’s the perfect form of platform-sharing. None of the cars look alike, none of the cars are made for the same customer-base, none of the cars are niched the same way, none of the cars are priced the same. That they could be manufuctured on the same line at the same time is simply astounding.

    And for badge-engineering, the GM J-car is the perfect example. From Chevrolet Citation to Cadillac Cimarron, it is basically the same car, looking the same, sharing the same underpinnings, greenhouse, body-panels. Just stick different fronts and end to each other and different sticker-prices on the window. Done! And hey presto, four different cars.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It’s platform sharing if you do it like Ford with the C1 (Volve S40, Mazda3, Euro Focus), its badge engineering like they do it with the Fusion and Milan.

    One is making use of a shared basic layout the other is just adding different trim or panels.

    Badge engineering is nearly always bad but even platform sharing can get suspect too when an upmarket vehicle shares the platform of a more mass market car. While this hasn’t hurt Toyota/Lexus (because their customers don’t care and most likely also don’t like to drive) it has been somwhat of a stigma for the VM Golf/Audi TT.

  • avatar
    John R

    Not to mention the Cimarron handled and went just as well as a Cavalier. Like a pig. The Golf and its variants both VW and Audi are very competent driver’s cars.

    So I imagine if the platform is good some apologies can be made.

  • avatar

    Good:
    – Chevy Cobalt and HHR
    They share a platform and drivetrain, dramtically reducing development costs while presenting two very different products to the market

    Bad:
    – Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5
    They share everything save the front and rear facias, presenting no real product differentiation or other compelling reason to chose one over the other

  • avatar
    windswords

    Hey, what’s a matter with you guys. Only American companies badge engineer. Foreign companies would never do that!

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    GTI and A3 cost about the same and are based on the same platform. Does anyone think they are the same car? VW does it well because it only shares across two brands. Each version of a given platform has to offer something very different. Thats something you can’t say of most GM brand engineering.

    (A4-Passat and HHR-Cobalt are the exceptions that prove this)

  • avatar
    brownie

    Here’s the difference: If my mom can tell that two related cars share parts, that’s badge engineering. If only the lunatics who discuss cars on the interwebs can tell, that’s platform sharing.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I don’t care if the A3 had a better interior (wood please) and engine (RS V8?)and was called a Bentley, they can call it a VW or an Audi if they want. Badges and brands make no difference. A car is a car, contrary to what the marketing of it says. I look for substance.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Jonny,

    If, by your logic, one cannot choose the A3 since it’s a platform sharing cousin of the VW Golf, then what am I to make of your WRX?

    That it somehow isn’t deep down, a souped up, pedestrian Impreza?

  • avatar
    Vega

    DearS: “Badges and brands make no difference”

    ….any comment, Mr Farago?…

  • avatar

    I think brownie nailed it — if my mom can’t tell the difference, then it’s badge engineering.

    If each car is somehow distinct, than I think it’s a case of platform sharing. I’ll use a vintage car example: my Bugeye Sprite is largely a mix of parts from 2 other cars (A35 and Morris Minor). Chassis was new, but all the other bits were right off the old shelf. The end result was quite different than the original cars.

    VW Golf vs Audi TT is a good example of this. In my mind, very different cars in execution, even if there are many shared bits.

    For badge engineering, I’ll continue my vintage example. In 1962 they wanted an MG version of the Sprite, so they took a Sprite and put on an MG badge and a few bits of chrome. Voila, an MG. That’s badge engineering.

    The Cimarron was this type of car — really just a trim level of a Cavalier. And lousy at that.

  • avatar
    Orian

    As mentioned above, badge engineering is nothing more than taking the same body and/or interior and changing a few minor details around. Examples were given.

    Platform sharing is taking the same basic underpinnings and using totally different sheet metal and interiors.

    The foreign manufacturers do more platform sharing than the domestics do. The domestics seem stuck in a badge engineering rut and it’s killing them. The Cimarron/Cavalier is a prime example of badge engineering that doesn’t work. GM took the lowest model they had – the Cavalier, changed a few pieces and tried to sell it upmarket as a Cadillac. Had they given the Cimarron totally different sheet metal, interior, and drive train off the same platform they probably would have seen a much better acceptance of the car. People knew it was an over priced Cavalier and wanted nothing to do with it.

  • avatar
    210delray

    That Cimarron ad pictured is a hoot! “Cadillac’s road-hugging touring suspension?” I don’t think so.

    BTW, the infamous J-car spanned all five of GM’s car divisions at the time.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Badge engineering is strictly a matter of perception.

    If the customer is confused by it and fails to see meaningful distinctions between the different vehicles, then it is badge engineering. If consumers can’t tell the difference, then it isn’t.

    There is nothing wrong with platform and parts sharing, but it helps if the shared parts aren’t visible. The exteriors and interiors need to look different in ways that are meaningful to the customer.

    (EDIT: This will be known heretofore as The Brownie’s Mom Test.)

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I think it comes down to the doors. Same doors = same car. That makes the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne badge-engineerd siblings of each other, while the Audi Q7 only shares the same platform. That all the three cars is more or less interchangable is not really obvious at first glance. But the line has to be drawn somewhere.

    Had they given the Cimarron totally different sheet metal, interior, and drive train off the same platform they probably would have seen a much better acceptance of the car.

    Well they did just that, with the first-generation Seville, which was more or less a re-bodied GM X-body, or Chevrolet Nova. The Seville of that era was the most expensive car in the entire Cadillac line-up, as it was benchmarked against Mercedes S-class.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Jonny wrote:
    “when you boil the small Audi down, you’re left with a VW Golf. Er, Rabbit.”

    When you boil off the fancy wing and the turbo of a STI, all you have is an Imprezza. Nice car (I own a Forester), but easily comparable to a Golf.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    It’s an academic argument mostly and as I recall the first to badge engineer were the Europeans. Recall the MB 190,210,220,300 versions. All were the same body with different engines and amenities, the higher the number the more likely to have wood and leather on the interior surfaces.

    Likewise the first to share a platform might have been the VW and Karman Ghia. Very different bodies but the same platform.

    Thanks to the success of the Japanese in the 60’s and 70’s we now have the “generic car”.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Ingvar,

    The Cavalier and Cimarron were J-bodies, not X-bodies, and they were FWD.

    They were referred to as a Cava-caddy in central Ohio from day one.

    Gottleib, that sounds more like different variations of the same model vs badge engineering (think Imprezza vs Imprezza WRX – same car, different drive train configuration). Badge engineering is the act of putting a different brand and name on the same car/truck. If you look at GM, Ford, and Chrysler you can see it rampant in their line up.

  • avatar
    Antone

    Pig-pile on Badge engineering!

    Platform engineering has proven to do very well, and seems to be the industry norm. Even up-scale specialty manufactures are using it (Bentley Coupe and A8, R8 and Gallardo, Cayman and Boxster.) The trick is a good platform to start. Nissan did well with the 350Z, G35 variants, FX35/45 and the M35/45. Nissan did it poorly with the Titan SUV (“______”) and the QX56, that was a case of badge engineering…

    Now I wouldn’t mind badge engineering if it was Porsche taking the 997 platform shrinking it, take the pretty interior out, replace the 3.6 L F-6 with a 2.0 L F-4 (maybe sourced from Subaru), and selling it as the next generation VW Bug. Yes Please!

  • avatar
    B-Rad

    Simply put:

    Badge Engineering = vehicles that share everything, from the underpinnings to body panels. Badge engineered vehicles may or may not share some aspects such as dash layout or radio head units.

    Platform sharing = vehicles based on the same underpinning but don’t really look alike inside or out, although they are probably approximately the same size because, after all, how much different in size can one chassis be?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    It’s an academic argument mostly and as I recall the first to badge engineer were the Europeans. Recall the MB 190,210,220,300 versions. All were the same body with different engines and amenities, the higher the number the more likely to have wood and leather on the interior surfaces.

    What the f**k are you talking about? Badge-engineered Benzes? They WERE the same car, just different engines and trims… Though a W201 190 is totally different from a W124 300E, they are NOT the same car, they have nothing in common but the same axle-layout.

    But yes, europeans were good at badge-engineering, especially in the 60’s. And it killed the entire english car industry, there are nothing left that isn’t sold out.

    Who was first with badge-engineering anyway? I would say GM, in the 30’s.

  • avatar
    mxfive4

    I think the gap between platform sharing and badge engineering is defined by the final product’s personality.

    Platform sharing – usually a positive term in my book – the Volvo S40 and the Mazda3. Drive them and you will notice a difference that transcends the interior dressings and exterior badging.

    These cars actually have different personalities.

    Badge engineering – a negative term in my book – is exemplified by the Pontiac G5 and the Chevy Cobalt. Drive them back to back and you would be hard pressed to find a difference minus the badges and the sheetmetal.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    The Imprezza:WRX retort doesn’t make sense to me. The WRX *is* an Imprezza. A parallel to it is what the Mustang GT is to the base Mustang. The Golf:A3 duo are not advertised as a model family. I think of it as badge engineering and can’t see a great many reason to pay more for the same chassis and engine, but they do go pretty far to differentiate them unlike the GM examples.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “Ingvar,

    The Cavalier and Cimarron were J-bodies, not X-bodies, and they were FWD.”

    Well, have I stated otherwise? If you read more closely, you would see that I refer to the Cavalier/Cimarron as a J-Car, and the RWD Cadillac Seville as an X-body derivate. In fact, the Seville had its own platform, the K-Body, which was an X-body derivate. The point is, it is essentially a rebodied 70’s Chevy Nova, but with better styling, compared to the same greenhouse/same doors-styling of the J-Car. If you thought that I was talking about the J-Car and Seville being the same car, that has to be a misunderstanding.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    The “Brownie’s Mom Test” is sweet.

    Kudo’s Brownie!

    Camry=Lexus ES anyone?

    Nissan/Suzuki (soon) pickups?

    What the heck is that VW van? The Rat-truck or something. (assist by 3-head inc)

    They are harder to find outside the Debt3, but they do exist.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    mxfive4 is right. The difference between badge engineering and platform is the final product. The Cimarron was crap and an insult to a once proud brand, while the A3 is an appealing and desirable car. It doesn’t dilute Audi at all, especially compared to the Q7.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Is the Cadillac XLR less of a car than the Vette? Not in absolute terms, but when you factor in a cost difference of $35k, you bet your ass its less of a value proposition. What does that $35k buy you? That’s some bucks for more leather and a different interior (and uglier exterior)

  • avatar
    mlbrown

    Oh, Shiat. A Cimarron. My first car was a 1984 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird, the “excitement” version of the J-body cars. What a rusty, overheating, cylinder head-warping piece of junk. Although, I did manage to push it to 175,000 mi. My friends and I used to call it the Millennium Finch.

    I seem to recall, however, that Toyota did have a hard time selling the first generation of the, what was it? The ES 250? Because it was so obviously just a fancied-up, really expensive Camry.

    My Sunbird, by the way, was the model with the three headlights on each side. Sweet.

    That was badge engineering, but who cares? YOU ARE BEING SOLD A CAR AND EVERYONE KNOWS IMAGE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO CAR BUYERS.

    Do you really think your average Audi buyer is going to say, ‘Well, this car is just a re-badged Rabbit, I might as well go on down to the VW dealer.”

    No.

    -Matt

  • avatar

    so are the Trabant and Yugo examples of badge engineering or platform sharing?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    But there are badge-engineering in Europe too. Nissan sells badge-engineered versions of Renaults commercial vehicles at Nissan dealers. Same metal, just different badges. I guess it has to do with fleet sales and being able to sell an entire line-up at the same dealer. Volkswagen and Toyota had some arrangement where VW sold Toyota pick-ups badged as Volkswagens. I guess it had something to do with getting a foot into the european market, or quotas or something.

    Not to forget that Chrysler Europe through the entire 90’s until just recently sold ALL their cars badged as Chryslers. Imagine a Chrysler Viper. Or at the same time, when GM sold ALL their cars badged as Chevrolets. The Oldsmobile Alero was simply re-badged as a Chevrolet Alero. Like we in Europe had never heard of Oldsmobile or Dodge?. Like we didn’t know that Chrysler made luxury cars, and Dodge made muscle cars painted in red? And now, ALL of the Daewoos cars are sold as Chevrolets in Europe. Imagine the Daewoo Matiz sharing floor-room space with the Corvette and Tahoe. What is that doing to brand-recognition and brand-value to the europeans? Do they think we are stupid? Like we can’t tell the difference between korean crap and american? Let’s just call it all a Chevrolet, and then call it a day?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    so are the Trabant and Yugo examples of badge engineering or platform sharing?

    Neither. The only thing they share is being crappily engineered.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Ingvar, you can just blame GM for the confusion. I think someone here mentioned the Citation, which was on the new FWD X platform in 1980, not the older N.O.V.A.S.-based X body, which someone else might have confused? Who knows, I’m confused now.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I think there is some substance in badge engineering. Similar to how their is substance in stickers and graphics. Similar to how different style rims have some substance. Even colors are part of a cars substance. Also owners change grills all the time anyways. I may not like what companies and individuals come up with, but I’m grateful it exists. The Mercury Sable and Ford Taurus being both produced is fine with me. I can even learn a trick or two from having someone trying to sell them at the same time. Although I do not like false advertising, I can at least learn to discern what others are saying or get burned or both. Although Ford rims on a Mercury some how seems wrong, or is that False Evidence Appearing Real.

  • avatar
    incitatus

    Platform sharing and badge engineering are at the root the same thing. The manufacturer trying to give you the impression of a different/new product while saving money for sharing more or less out of an existing car.

    Who the heck cares? They sell you a car.. you like it you buy it, you don’t like go try a different one.
    Why does everything has to fit your preconception?
    If it’s not republican it’s got to be democrat, if it’s not platform sharing it’s the other one…

  • avatar
    iNeon

    The neon was sold under Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth nameplates.

    Was that badge-engineering? =)

    What about the PT/neon relationship?

    Sebring and Avenger haven’t been discussed yet. What’s consensus on that one?

  • avatar

    The British Motor Company was notorious for badge engineering — literally just slapping a different nameplate on the same car — well before GM really succumbed. It’s certainly not an American invention.

    I usually think of badge engineering as separate models that are identical in sheet metal as well as body structure, differing mostly in trim. How identical is identical comes down to the Brownie’s Mom test; it’s amazing to me how many people don’t see the similarity between, say, a Lexus ES and a Camry.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Platform sharing and badge engineering are at the root the same thing. The manufacturer trying to give you the impression of a different/new product while saving money for sharing more or less out of an existing car.

    Yeah, but don’t try to pretend that you sell four DIFFERENT cars, when it’s the same car in different trims, at different dealers. People don’t like to be taken for fools. And what’s the difference Between a Buick Enclave and a Chevrolet Traverse? Compare that difference to the differenve between an Audi TT and a Volkswagen Touran. Same Car? Not likely.

    The difference between badge engineering and platform-sharing lays in how much money you are willing to risk to differentiate cars sharing the same parts. Volkswagens parts-bin is shared gladly between makes as disparate as Skoda and Bentley. Who gives a crap about all the little tid-bits you never see? Electronics, suspensions, interior plastics, knobs and levers? As long as it doesn’t look the same, no one will tell the difference. Is the Bentley Continental a lesser car because it shares many parts with the Volkswagen Phaeton, costing half as much? In my mind, yes. To many people gladly willing of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, obviously not. Is the Audi TT a lesser car because is shares a third of its parts and all the body hard points with Skoda and Seat? Not in my mind. In my mind, it is only really smart sharing as much as possible while making cars in roughly the same size, but designing them for different people, different purposes, different tastes, and different purses. You can’t substite an Audi TT for a people hauler like the Volkswagen Touran. But you can substite an Enclave for the Traverse. Obviously, as they are nearly identical.

    Platform-sharing: Different cars – Same parts

    Badge-engineering: Same cars – different badges

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    The British Motor Company was notorious for badge engineering — literally just slapping a different nameplate on the same car — well before GM really succumbed. It’s certainly not an American invention.

    Argentla: You should try to look up Alfred P Sloan the next time you happen to stumble across an encyklopedia.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Platform sharing and badge engineering are at the root the same thing. The manufacturer trying to give you the impression of a different/new product while saving money for sharing more or less out of an existing car.

    No, there is a difference. It’s a bit like claiming that fried chicken, coq au vin, chicken cassarole and chicken pot pie are all the same dish because they all start with the same base.

    Parts sharing makes sense. There is no reason to have unique parts for every car, when a lot of stuff is interchangeable.

    We’re back to Brownie’s mom (we’ve added her to the payroll.) If the vehicles look and feel different, the products are effectively different from the customer’s standpoint, and the different badging provides benefit to the customer because it alerts them to the difference.

    Badge engineering insults the customer’s intelligence. It tries to fool them into buying something that they otherwise wouldn’t have wanted, or to pay more for something that they would have paid less for otherwise. It’s insulting to the customer, and really tells you a lot about what the company thinks about its customers.

  • avatar
    Kiwi_Mark_in_Aussie

    Question – Is badge engineering only bad if it happens in the same country and/or across price points?

    i.e. Opel/Vauxhall/Holden

    Is this even badge engineering? or just rebranding a car for a different market?

  • avatar
    huy

    You know I was guilty of not giving the Golf a chance at first, then I test drove the GTI and it blew my mind! Having owned a WRX with its sluggishly slow and vague steering, the GTI felt amazing! I still remember holding on for dear life in the WRX when the salesman took me out to demonstrate how great it handled. In stark contrast, the GTI has precise quick steering that I love. I was able to immediately toss the car around a corner at high speeds with confidence. THAT my friends is fun… and the engine provides enough torque and response to maintain the fun. On top of that the 2.0T gets 31 mpg hwy. Its a far better car than the WRX. Obviously good enough to impress those shelling out $40,000 for a car. Its not like they are getting robbed because the Audi offers more options that normal people would like. You can get your STI, fast and furious Jonny… but the adults would rather have an A3 with its brand prestige and luxury.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    I’m an adult and honestly don’t want to pay more for snob appeal. I know that some folks think it’s worth it, but when it comes to platform mates I think it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. That’s where badge engineering falls down in my opinion.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Yep, Brownie nailed it.

    Two points, Brownie.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    In my opinion, when cars start sharing body panels and interior bits, it is badge engineering and not platform sharing.

    Now, whether that is bad or not is up to the market. The border seems to be when taking a car upmarket the Camry/ES Fusion/MKZ, Golf/A3, etc. However, this is acceptible if the market will allow it. What is stupid is badge engineering to the same market (Fusion/Milan,cobalt/G5) and it seems to be pointless anyway.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @Ingvar
    But there are badge-engineering in Europe too. Nissan sells badge-engineered versions of Renaults commercial vehicles at Nissan dealers. Same metal, just different badges.

    Open sells the same vans too. Opel Vivaro/Movano anyone?

    And now, ALL of the Daewoos cars are sold as Chevrolets in Europe. Imagine the Daewoo Matiz sharing floor-room space with the Corvette and Tahoe.

    Well, that actually isn’t a problem, because the Corvette isn’t a Chevrolet anymore in Europe. It’s a “Corvette Corvette”. It isn’t sold at Chevrolet (ex-Daewoo) dealers, but at Cadillac dealers, operated by Kroymans.
    Not that I’ve ever seen a Cadillac dealer in Europe. Or… a Cadillac.

    @Pch101
    It’s a bit like claiming that fried chicken, coq au vin, chicken cassarole and chicken pot pie are all the same dish because they all start with the same base.

    Brilliant.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    There’s exactly one reason the Cimarron is reviled while the A3, 9-2x, ES300, and Milan aren’t.

    The 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier was a pile of… shaving cream, be nice and clean, shave every day and you’ll always look keen….

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    brownie,

    You nailed it.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    I think I understand now thanks to Brownie’s Mom.

    Let me hypothesize that Badge Engineering is accomplished by the Marketing Department

    while Platform Engineering is done in the Design and Engineering department. In my mind that seems to explain everything being discussed here..

    While Alfred Sloan certainly can be considered the father of successful brand differentiation in the automobile industry, during his time each of the auto brands had their own separate division to include engineers and marketing department. Mostly what was shared during his tenure were body panels and frames. Each division had their own engines, transmissions and assembly lines. It wasn’t until the 1970 when engines started being shared among the brands and then it wasn’t long before the divisions were eliminated.

    One more point, remember the Rolls Royce and Bentleys that were the same with the exception of their radiator shell. They even advertised the cars as being the same with the radiator shell difference. I think you could save $300 by purchasing the Bentley versus the Rolls Royce.
    I suppose that is the ultimate in reverse snobbery, to have great wealth and then purchase the Bentley model versus the Rolls Royce model just to be different.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Badge Engineering is when a vehicle is completely designed first and THAN a company decides to make some minor COSMETIC changes and sell it under a different name or brand.
    A good example of this is the Ford Fusion, Milan, MKZ and the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. Any simple minded grandma can tell you that the Fusion and MKZ are the exact same car with different grills and trim. Everything else on the exterior is the same, same doors, windows, trunk lid, a pillars, b pillars, and c pillers. It is the same with the CUV “twins”.
    Needless to say this is Badge Engineering at its worst!

    Platform sharing is quite different. Platform shares is when a company makes use of an existing BASE platform or chassis and designs a totally different vehicle.
    The best and most successful use of platform sharing has been done by Nissan. Nissan’s FM Platform has been a homerun success for them.
    So far we have seen a total of 6 very successful products come from this one platform; 350z, G Coupe, G sedan, M sedan, FX CUV, and EX CUV. Outside of folks that are really knowledgeable about automobiles people do NOT know that all of these vehicles orginate off of the same platform.
    Outside of the 350z being somewhat heavy none of these vehicles have any serious drawbacks from sharing a platform.

    The Camry/ ES350 and Accord/ TL are also excellent jobs, with the Honda platform share being a little better. The only real similarity between the Camry and ES is that they are very similar dimensionally. Honda has been more successful in hiding that trait. Outside of some minor details like door handles and outside mirror these cars share ZERO exterior or interior panels, doors, lights, grill, or trim. Only the platform and engine are common.

    A not so successful platform share is the Corvette XLR. If you look at the XLR for more than a few minutes it is clear where the design is compromised by the use of a true sportcar chassis to build a luxury Caddy convertible. It is clear that the Caddy designers had a hard time fitting the Cadillac “Art & Science” styling ques onto a chassis that was clearly designed for something else, far to low, with a front end that is dragging on the ground. That is way the XLR, depending on the viewing angle looks like a giant either sat on it (from the front) or it looks like the box the Corvette came in (from the back).

    Now there is more to this story, with very expensive premium vehicles even platform sharing is a bad thing. It seem that even if people are unaware of the real origin of a high-end car, if it is NOT pure they figure it out in short order. IMO this why I see those Bentley Continential things on the local “ghetto fabulous” used car lots around NYC.

  • avatar
    brownie

    Geez, I go away for a few hours and all of a sudden a bunch of strangers on the internet are talking about my mom… :)

  • avatar
    simonptn

    The reality is that,whatever we say, the market will decide.

    If you can sell both without one cannibalizing the other you can reasonbly call it platform sharing. e.g. Toyota/Lexus, VW/Audi

    Sales will then tell you very quickly if it was badge engineering or platform sharing.

    Car buyers may not have the “knowledge and wisdom” of the TTAC crowd but they are not stupid sheep – whatever Bob Lutz may think!

  • avatar
    incitatus

    @Pch101
    It’s a bit like claiming that fried chicken, coq au vin, chicken cassarole and chicken pot pie are all the same dish because they all start with the same base.

    I like that … But it’s not the same thing. As far as I know, nobody buys a car at gun point. They have the time to research and drive the car before buying it. If one is stupid it deserves the treatment and the product it ends up with.

    The natural selection on one hand and the free market on the other takes care of both the customer and the manufacturer.

    One more thing. I don’t think anybody would complain about a badge engineered product that is great. In the very end the quality of the product will tell the story no matter if it’s badge engineered, platform shared or flat out a totally new product.

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    i bet that if you showed an 5 door A3 and a 5 door GTI to brownie’s mom and told her they both had the SAME transmission and engine (2.0T and 6 speed manual), there’s a decent chance she’d vote for badge engineering.
    That’s cause they’re BOTH 5 door ‘hot hatches’…
    at similar price points…
    However, as noted above, there are lots of variations on this platform that are not as similar as the example of the A3 and GTI…

  • avatar
    davey49

    It is a really nice interior in the A3. Plus it has better color choices than the GTI.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    The concept of badge engineering goes back some years. The first time motoring journalists copped the phrase was in the Britain of the 1950’s. Merger mania was afoot and when Morris and Austin combined to form British Motor Corporation (BMC) the marques Austin, Morris, Wolseley, Riley & MG began selling the same Farina-bodied mid size saloon through all five channels (sound familiar?)
    I’m glad you mentioned Cimarron, because that was precisely what GM did with their crappy little J car compact. So all of their dealers could have a small car to sell. Therefore, to answer the question, badge engineering is when different brands are applied to the for-all-intents-and-purposes exact same car. Cavalier to Cimarron? Yes. VW Phaeton to Bentley Continental? No.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    It’s badge engineering when more that 50% of what you see is unchanged between vehicles.

    Thus the Lambda trio is platform sharing while the Chevrolet and GMC trucks are badge engineered.

    Fusion/Milan/MKZ … badge.

    Fusion/Mazda6 …. platform.

    Jag S-type/Lincoln LS …. platform.

    Mazda Tribute/Ford Escape …. badge.

    It’s really quite simple.

    “By that logic, what was wrong with the Cadillac Cimarron?”

    Easy, the Cimarron was a crap car which didn’t live up to the Cadillac brand. GM didn’t invest the development and manufacturing effort into it that would have been required to make a first class Cadillac small car. It didn’t help that the starting point Chevy was a piece of crap as well, but the problem with the Cimarron wasn’t it’s parentage as much as it was the final product.

    The modern Mini is a great small car. It wouldn’t matter if BMW had started with a go-kart, the issue is the goodness of the result. The Cimarron is derided because it didn’t come close to living up to it’s promise of being the “Cadillac of small cars”.

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