By on March 29, 2012

Carmakers all over the world strive to make more with less. All car companies that want to be around in a few years are on some kind of a standardization drive.  GM wants to cut its 30 platforms down to 14. Volkswagen wants to get rid of platforms altogether .

Mercedes will halve its vehicle architectures to two by 2015, and will double its number of model variants to 30, Automotive News [sub] reports.

Those 30 model variants will derive from a Mercedes Front Wheel Architecture (MFA) for compact cars (A class and B class) and a Mercedes Rear Wheel Architecture (MRA) for everything above. At the moment, Mercedes has four architectures: rear-, front- , all-wheel drive, and sports cars. (The G-Wagen does not count.) Standardization will shorten development time and will make for more efficient manufacturing. The time needed to make a Benz will sink from 43 hours in 2008 to 30 hours by 2015.

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19 Comments on “Mercedes Will Cut Its Platforms In Half...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Two? Presumably the third-gen smart doesn’t count since it’s using a Renault platform.

    The problem with the “platform with a thousand faces” approach is that the product ends up being a jack-of-trades car: adequate for everything and excellent at nothing. The small cars are heavy, the big cars are loud, the sports cars are dull, and the SUVs are fragile.

  • avatar

    It’s only a matter of time, as there are simply too many car models and brands and the market can’t sustain them all. Badge-engineering and platform-consolidation must be the order of the day. Even at that, not all OEMs will survive.

    Perhaps it’s time to figure out a way for someone to be a custom coach-builder and to do it cheap enough that many, rather than a privileged few can afford something “different”, even if under a common platform.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Mercedes Will Cut Platforms In Half…”

    Are they going to sell the half platforms as motorcycles? or will you be able to mix and match fronts and backs?

  • avatar

    In related news, Mercedes recall counts expected to double.

    Seriously: one disadvantage to economies of scale like this is that shared components have shared defects. A bespoke product that might see a recall of a few thousand; now you’re looking at global recalls in the millions.

    There is an advantage to genetic diversity.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a good point, but on the other hand, putting development money into fewer variants means more focused development. Think of how good the Jeep Patriot could have been if Chrysler spent money allocated to the Compass and Dodge Caliber on just the Patriot (or alternatively, had they not made a little Jeep and instead put the money into the Caliber, it might have been a competitive car in its segment.

  • avatar

    This is a very bold step toward getting the bloat out of today’s lard-assed cars. Oh wait, you meant the number of platforms. Sorry.

  • avatar

    “Mercedes to make term ‘platform’ even more vague and dodgy”


    • 0 avatar

      This is basically what is happening. They basically already have only two different types of power-train. The rear wheel drive longitudinal engine and front wheel drive transverse mount (not available in the U.S.)

      The RWD cars all have the same transmission and basically the same engines. What I assume will now also be standardized between RWD models will be front subframes and transfer cases/front diffs on the 4-matic models. This is where the only real difference is in the powertrains between the cars. Right now the 204 C/GLK and 207/212 E(Coupe/Sedan) share basically everything underneath. The 221 S has a slightly different design for the front diff and the transfer case is removable from the transmission. All of these cars have diffs that mount tom the side of the engine oil pan, and an axle shaft that goes through it. On the ML/GL/R the front diff is a separate assembly that sits below the engine. This is what i think is leaving. I would think that in 2015 the transfer case will all be internal to the transmission, and the differential on all cars will be bolted to the engine so that the engine can be mounted lower in the chassis.

  • avatar

    The same platform will be used for the C-Class *and* the S-Class? Interesting. This will be the ultimate sausage, er, Frankfurter.

  • avatar

    That is a whole lot of Mercedes models

  • avatar

    how is Volkswagen going to build cars without a platform?

  • avatar

    I am a little lost on how you turn a C-class into an S-class when all you have is a bunch of Lego blocks.

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