By on November 16, 2009

Where it all starts...

Volkswagen will continue its pioneering work testing the boundaries between platform-sharing and brand-engineering, reports Autocar, with a new platform destined to underpin some 60 models globally. The modularen querbaukasten (modular transverse engine, or MQB) architecture will form the basis of models ranging from the sub-Golf Lupo to the Sharan MPV, starting with the next-gen Audi A3 which debuts in Europe in 2011. The key to the platform’s versatility is its adaptiveness to different wheelbases, tracks and wheel sizes. Says VW R&D Boss Ulrich Hackenberg:

It gives us the possibility to produce models from different segments and in varying sizes using the same basic front-end architectur. We can go from a typical hatchback to a saloon, cabriolet and SUV with only detailed changes to the size of the wheel carriers.

The new architecture will allow VW to replace some 18 engine-mounting architectures to a mere two, reportedly providing about  60 to 70 per cent parts commonality between Volkswagen’s biggest-selling models.

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36 Comments on “VW: 60 Models, One Platform...”

  • avatar

    Somehow I imagine that they will make each of these models distinct, despite the shared architectures, very unlike GM or Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      I would fully expect so — a shared architecture doesn’t mean cookie-cutter cars.  For example, the current PQ35 (aka A5) platform is the basis not only for the VW Golf and the Audi A3, but such different models as VW Touran mini-MPV, VW Caddy (think Transit Connect), the VW Eos convertible, the VW Tiguan, the Audi TT and the Skoda Yeti — 18 or more models in total, depending on exactly what one counts as a “model”.

      • 0 avatar

        I know sharing platforms doesn’t mean that all of the cars are the same, but you should tell Ford. Fusion, MKZ, and Milan are horrible examples of how to platform share. GM has certainly learned a lot lately, but they could still take a lesson or two as well. The G5/Cobalt excercise didn’t fool anyone.

  • avatar

    What does this tell you?  It tells me that VW must cannibalize itself dramatically and/or it’s paying a lot of overhead costs to maintain these brands  if it can make sixty cars off of nearly the same platform.

    • 0 avatar

      And why is GM the very embodiment of Satan when it does this, versus VW, who’s “testing the boundaries between platform-sharing and brand-engineering”?

      Or did I miss the sarcasm? Maybe I did…

      • 0 avatar

        You know the answer, really.  For instance, the B6 Passat is based on a Golf platform.  But no one considers the Passat to be a Golf.  Another example: the B5 Passat/Audi A4 shared a platform.  Now, each of these cars was both distinct and viable in and of themselves, and no one thought of one as a cheap and/or inexpensive version of the other.
        I think GM’s problem was trying to pass off essentially the same car within several brands.  Think GM J platform a la Cadillac Cimarron/Chevy Cavalier.   Everyone knew a Cimarron was a Chevy with a few “upmarket” options.  Few people, outside of car buffs, know of the Passat/Golf relationship since they look and drive like different cars.

        • 0 avatar

          GM has done some terrible rebadging in the past, but on this site, the LaCrosse and Regal are a sin, and they don’t fit well with the new, and unreleased Malibu and Impala and Caddy XTS.  Sin, oh Sin.  It isn’t like you don’t see the commonality in some of the vehicles that manufactures have, like the Jetta and A4, Camry and ES, Accord and TL, etc etc etc.

          • 0 avatar

            Steven02November 16th, 2009 at 6:45 pm
            GM has done some terrible rebadging in the past, but on this site, the LaCrosse and Regal are a sin, and they don’t fit well with the new, and unreleased Malibu and Impala and Caddy XTS. Sin, oh Sin. It isn’t like you don’t see the commonality in some of the vehicles that manufactures have, like the Jetta and A4, Camry and ES, Accord and TL, etc etc etc.

            The Jetta and the A4 have never shared a platform. Maybe you mean Passat and A4?

          • 0 avatar


            GM does some HORRIBLE rebadging NOW..

            Im constantly amazed at the aggravating stupidity that people exhibit when buying current GM shit.

            GM is doing the same god damn badge engineered shit.. they did 10yrs ago.

            The Lambdas are a PRIME example.
            Ya don’t put 4 vehicles together, built on the same frame, and try and sell them.. and HAVE THEM NOT BE COMPETITIVE!

            The Aura and Malibu are also PRIME examples.
            (Toyota mostly get a free pass on this because, they have the ability to use the frame to build 7 vehicles on one frame. Even though NOW its overlapping.. with no point, sharing Camry mechanicals, and not susceptible to recalls **cough BULLSHIT cough**)

            GM WISHES they could rebadge OR platform ENGINEER the way Toyota does..

            Virtually everything at GMC is a prime copy of the other crap at Chevy.

            The only problem that VW is running into… is Skoda and lesser companies like it, that VW owns are selling copies of Jetta and or Passatt, and they are better or AS good as the originals… which DEvalues the original product.

            Who in AMERICA would pay for the real thing (GM/Ford/Chrapsler domestics, or the Toyoda/Honda/Nissan Japanese..) when ya can get the knock off cheap shit Korean garbage.. and get the same “quality”.

            See Hyun/Kia current quality scores / consumer standings for that resolution…

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve wondered about this from time to time.  If they’ve got VW, Audi, Skoda, and Seat cars in a segment, all using the same platform, how can they do it without the cannibalization you see with GM?
      Now, it’s been a few years since I lived in Europe so things may have changed a bit.  But I don’t recall seeing the combo dealers for these brands like you do in the US with the domestics.  While you could have a Chevy/Pontiac/Buick/Saturn dealer selling the same car with different grills, the dealers for the VW brands seems to be separate (with the exception of VW/Audi).
      They also seem to make each brand’s cars different enough to target specific clientele.  I rode in a Skoda Octavia a couple of weeks ago, and it clearly had VW parts in it.  the seats, switchgear, etc were all the same ones you’d find in a Golf.  But the design and value proposition seem to be aimed at different people.  I guess that’s what you get when you have a strong brand identity for your products.
      If VW can swing making all these different cars from the same platform, it’s going to be interesting.  They’re already good at the branding/design/packaging of the different models, but scaling a single platform up and down to that extreme would take it to another level.
      And one can hope that by reducing differences between models they will improve quality and service.  At least I’ll hope for that.

  • avatar

    I dare anyone to say “modularen querbaukasten ” six times fast.

  • avatar

    Hell.  Chrysler was way ahead of them with the K-car and it’s 4 gazillion variants.

  • avatar

    Somehow they make each of these models unreliable , despite the shared architectures

  • avatar

    Sounds like GM and Epsilon II.

  • avatar

    Jack of all trades — Master of none

  • avatar

    Based on the theory that the only stupid question is the one not asked, I’m going to go ahead and ask:
    What is included in a “platform”?
    I could sort of figure this out in the case something like the Solstice/Sky, but when it comes to the range of vehicles discussed in this article, I’m at a loss. This are unibody, of course, so there is no real frame is there? Engines are different, so what’s left? Some bits of suspension and drive train?

    • 0 avatar

      This could mean different lengths of the vehicles, different heights, widths, a lot of different things can change, depends on the platform.  Modular platforms like this are going to be very common in the future.
      There are about 7 or 8 vehicles on variants of the Camry platform for instance.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      The engine/transmission combination and the sub-frame it is attached to are a big element of a modern platform. Brake systems, electronics systems, door internals, seat rails and other common hidden parts can also be considered part of a platform. A given platform set might have multiple engine/transmission combinations which all use the same mounting points from the sub-frame to the unibody.
      One downside is that shared components have to be large enough and heavy enough to take the loads of the largest/heaviest vehicle which is going to be on the platform. Take a CV joint, for example. If optimised for every vehicle weight & power combination you would end up with a bunch of slightly different CV joint designs. If, however, you wish to use one CV joint across a wide range of applications then it must be large enough and stout enough to serve the highest powered, heaviest weight vehicle in the intended family. This means that the smaller vehicles will end up a bit heavier than they otherwise might be optimized to be. Look for VW’s future small vehicles to be a bit overweight compared to competitors who use a less universal platform engineering strategy.

      • 0 avatar

        Look for VW’s future small vehicles to be a bit overweight compared to competitors who use a less universal platform engineering strategy.
        Future vehicles?
        The MkV Jetta weighs more than the full-size Accord and the not-quiet-full-size Camry.  It tips the scales at more than five- to seven-hundred pounds more than the Corolla or Civic.

  • avatar

    That’s going to mean a lot of profit for VW.

    Some of the reasons it works for VW and not GM relates to the European market. Styling is a bigger deal there, hence all the “creativity” in their small cars designs. The current happy-face Mazda3, for example, was penned in response to criticism that its previous design was too bland. Few Americans felt that way, but in Europe it was relatively bland. So in Europe it may be worth reskinning a car a few times. That’s especially true when you can put a bit of personality spin on a car by shifting it into the SEAT or Skoda brands. People know what they stand for, because they’re more consistent than GM’s brands were (e.g. Pontiac).

    GM did start doing full re-skins, like with the Solstice/Sky and the Malibu/Aura, and those were moderately well received. It’s rebadges that nobody cares for (changing the head and taillights and some interior pieces counts as rebadging, imo). That’s an obvious lack of effort that even non-geeks can see.

    More importantly, the VW shared platform cars are mostly pretty good. That lets you get away with a lot more (e.g. Camry and Lexus ES?). GM’s rebadges of old are infamous for sucking more than anything else.

  • avatar

    70 models..all guaranteed to last 5 years or less…
    They should call it the ‘lease or else’ program. This is a huge forced shift to planned osbeselence. (sp?)

  • avatar

    VW are just copying GM’s Interbuildability.
    (Or what Toyota does already – but without the fanfare of a stupid name).

  • avatar
    Frank IBC

    Carlisimo wrote:
    “That’s going to mean a lot of profit for VW. Some of the reasons it works for VW and not GM relates to the European market. Styling is a bigger deal there, hence all the “creativity” in their small cars designs.”
    What a change from half a century ago.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    VW has been doing an excellent job of platform sharing for a long time now. This just takes it to the next level. Honda does this kind of thing pretty aggressively as well.

  • avatar

    -This is just extension of a well-proven idea.  Maxbob already referred to it as a shift from platforms to architectures at least 5 years ago…
    – EuCD (Mondeo et al.) from C1 (Focus et al.)…  NACD, aka the current CD3 (FF, MM, LMKZ) are less differentiated because Ford couldn’t amortize extreme differentiation becuase they sell fewer units overall off CD3 vs. PQ35/PQ46.  In the future, there will be a convergence between NACD and EuCD platforms and this will give Ford an opportunity to make the next incremental step.
    – BTW, In addition to the MQB, VW also has a MLB. In general, Q=FWD, L=RWD and 4/AWD…

    Bertel, what are your thoughts on all this?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually the Q stands for transversely-mounted drivetrain and the L for longitudinal. As mpresley pointed out, the B5 Passat used the same (PL45 platform) as the B6 A4 … however, the B6 Passat used a lengthened version of the Golf/Jetta platform, hence its designation as a PQ46.

  • avatar

    Oh good, you can also eliminate all but a couple of engines.  All eggs in one or two baskets means if the basket falls… fun times.  If you’re GM or Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      It also allows you to shake out an engine in one model and later introduce it to the complete line-up

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Nissan has done very well using their VQ V-6 engine family in a host of vehicles. Honda covers most of its entire product line with two engine families, one 4 cylinder and one V-6. GM has put various versions of the SBC (small block chevy) in countless models. A modern car company only needs a handful of basic engine families to cover a wide range of requirements.

  • avatar

    i think this would work fine in FWD cars that perhaps don’t have such a demanding audience (Golf GTI notwithstanding)

  • avatar

    Robert.Walter wrote:
    In general, Q=FWD, L=RWD and 4/AWD…
    Actually Q stands for transversely-mounted engine and L for longitudinal. For example, as mpresley pointed out, the B5 Passat shared the A4’s platform (PL45) … however the B6 used a lengthened Golf/Jetta platform (PQ46), complete with the latter’s transversely-mounted drivetrain.

  • avatar

    Things like this truely amaze me.

    This is after spending 2 days hunting for pics of their autostadt (that giant car delivery system they have un Germany).

    The sheer concept.. of buikding 60 models.. on ONE Platform.

    It almost makes me want to be interested in checking out a Golf GTI or even some Jetta Wagon. I can appreciate their designs. They seem to have a almost.. jene-sa-qua to placement, to interior fittings even to how the front clips work. A bit interesting.

    I also found out… the reason for the issues with VWs in the U.S. There are essentially two plants that supply to the US. The Wolfsburg plant.. and the one in Mexico. Stay away from MEXICO!

    But man..
    I admit, Im too put off by their current bait offer.. to cover free warranty work for 4yrs. It smells of a bait n switch.. the kind that follows in Hyundai / Kias path.

    60 Models.. 1 platform!

  • avatar

    Guys… What’s up with all the ruckus?

    VW is already using this technology for almost its entire Audi line. The new A4 (B8), A6 (C7), and A8 (D4) are all based on the same platform, and yet look at how different they are from each other.

    C’mon, do your homework before spreading misinformation.

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