Mid-Sized Madness

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

According to the Detroit News, both Ford and GM are looking at unifying their full- and mid-sized car platforms around a single platform in hopes of capturing economies of scale. Ford will move future Taurus and Fusion models to its European (Mondeo) C/D platform, while GM is looking at basing a future Impala on the Malibu’s Epsilon II platform. The Ford Flex/MKT would also likely move to the C/D platform, leaving the Taurus/Current Flex’s D3 platform available for the next generation Explorer.

While some analysts laud the move towards global platforms and lower engineering costs, this plan will still require major work to avoid the old bugbear of brand engineering. Especially at GM, where Epsilon II (and a Holden-developed stretched variant) could underpin as many as six sedans (Caddy XTS, Buick LaCrosse, Buick Lucerne, Buick Regal, Chevy Malibu, Chevy Impala) not counting onward-soldiering Saturns and Saabs. Meanwhile, as Ford and GM blandify their mid/full-size sedans in the name of cost-cutting, Kia is aiming at capturing enthusiasm and economies of scale by offering a Genesis-based RWD Amanti. Motor Trend says a V8 won’t be available on the Amanti, but budget RWD could just be a key differentiation amidst platform-sharing renaissance in Detroit.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
4 of 59 comments
  • V6 V6 on Jul 15, 2009

    the current Mondeo is huge, it's almost the length of a Ford Falcon & the wheelbase is longer. it also doesn't look that flash in real life, especially the sedan the current mid-size cars are too big. i rented a Camry recently and the vision out of it was shocking, the 4 cylinder engine was so coarse and i the same fuel economy as my 20 year old V6 Maxima. i miss the 90's Accord

  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jul 15, 2009
    i miss the 90’s Accord Then buy a Civic, because it's about the same size and power, while being significantly nicer all around.
  • Tricky Dicky Tricky Dicky on Jul 16, 2009

    What evidence is there for Ford's "blandification"?! Seems to me that they've been putting in a lot more ('scuse the pun), focused effort into their global cars of late and they've been doing pretty good in global markets. I can't imagine that the recent roll-outs could ever be worse than prior offerings. Haven't VW been showing us for years that it IS POSSIBLE to produce a differntiated product on top of a common platform. VW are the gorillas in the automotive jungle right now, 'cos they can spend Audi profits on grabbing mass market share. That'll be thanks to a high volume platform with a premium price tag. "Vorpsrung durch bank-it" if you ask me.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jul 16, 2009

    Okay, somebody define why engineering the platform costs so much. What does that include? I imagine that means the floorpan, the chassis rails (subframes front and rear), the firewall, the strut towers, and perhaps the engine bay. Tooling for stamping and assembling said chassis. Maybe testing to certify it in safety tests or ??? Does this include the suspension at both ends? Does the suspension or even the chassis need to be totally revised each time? Shouldn't the engineers be tweaking the design as time passes to plan a new platform with minor improvements over time anyway? New suspension to hang on an old design subframe offering incremental updates mid-life of a design - if even necessary? Of course I realize that dies and tooling have to be updated as well. Example - my late 90s olf MKIII Cabrio is very, very similar to the chassis and suspension from my mid-80s VW Rabbit 'vert (GTI suspension) and chassis. Alot of the parts interchange still. My late-90s CR-V seems to be built on an older Accord platform with an additional rear crossmember for the AWD. Lower suspension attachment points for more ground clearance. The crossmembers themselves may do this but I'd have to look. Suspension parts look like they may be beefed up parts (boxed and welded) from a Civic or older Accord. The floorpan is literally widened a few inches on both sides from some narrower product floorpan. I can see the strip of metal added to the floorpan on both sides. Seems like either the whole platform discussion by the automakers is another form of excuses justifying expenditures to someone or marketing hype or there is more to it than I understand (but I doubt that).