By on November 8, 2016

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

In automotive terms, Volkswagen’s go-to MQB platform might end up having a lifespan somewhere between a Fox and a Panther.

Eager to stretch its meager dollars to Gumby-like proportions, the embattled automaker has announced that the platform underpinning most of its vehicles won’t die after two generations. Nah, let’s make it three, VW brand chief Herbert Diess said.

That means some vehicles, such as the stalwart Golf, will eventually ride on a platform old enough to drink in the United States.

According to Reuters, Diess told the German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung that keeping the MQB platform around for a little while longer — okay, a lot — should rake in the savings the company so desperately craves.

“In the past months we have worked on the cost side of MQB and made significant progress,” Diess said. “The MQB has high technical substance, so we can use it for the next two vehicle generations without further major investments.”

The modular platform, first used on the 2012 Golf, provides the backbone for VW’s small and midsize cars, crossovers and SUVs. The architecture also finds a home in some Audi small cars, as well as other VW Group products. Diess has said before that the MQB platform is a little too hoity toity for a volume compact like the Golf, hence the need to trim the expense.

Actually, there’s a laundry list of reasons why the automaker hit snooze on the MQB’s replacement. Volkswagen has promised to shave billions in expenses over the next few years as the company faces pressure on two fronts — paying off a Mt. Everest-sized pile of fines, settlements and litigation stemming from the diesel emissions scandal (the current tally stands at $16.5 billion in the U.S. alone), plus bringing to market a promised crop of electric vehicles.

Short of clipping coupons for Shake n’ Bake, cutting platform costs and building more utility vehicles is VW’s only fallback.

Speaking of the Golf, a refreshed version should appear any day now. The seventh generation model should soldier on in a lightly updated form for another few years.

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

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19 Comments on “Volkswagen Figures It Can Keep Its Favorite Platform Around Basically Forever...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    No surprise here. All the money for fines and remediation has to come from somewhere, and the answer is R&D. VW will be selling essentially the same vehicles for a decade. Good news is that the quirks and foibles of the current VWs will be well-known and addressed by the mid-20s, and someone handy with a wrench and a VAG-COM should be able to keep the low-trim models going at a reasonable cost.

    • 0 avatar

      Nice post, but whats the over/under on VAG still finding a way to create headaches despite decades on one platform?

      • 0 avatar

        Apparently they can’t keep the gen III EA888 from leaking oil through its rear main seal, or keep the older series of 2.0T motors from burning massive amounts of oil, so that isn’t exactly confidence inspiring. Find yourself a pre-refresh Jetta VI with the old tractor motor 8-valve 2.0L.

        • 0 avatar

          Haven’t had any problems with the EA888 TSI yet in close to 30K miles on our 2014 Jetta, so hopefully our engine was built on a good day or something.

          That being said, the 2.5 is also pretty reliable and no worries about DI problems or turbo failure. They’re just thirsty.

          • 0 avatar

            Plus when you throw an exhaust on the 2.5, you end up with pretty awesome results for what is a pretty agricultural engine.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Didn’t they keep the basic Beetle platform around for 65 years. So what the heck is 20+ on the MQB?

  • avatar

    Automakers do this all the time. Nothing new here.

  • avatar

    Toyota’s “K” that started with the ’02 Camry still feels plenty capable in terms of rigidity/NVH, the packaging is excellent (16cu ft trunk, oodles of rear leg/head room, doesn’t weigh a ton). Looking underneath, I like the sturdy longerons on the underside (can use these as jacking points easily). If MBQ works well for VW, good on them.

    Where platforms really start to feel old/inadequate is the old Panthers (cramped legroom) and more recently the W-body GMs. Poor rear legroom, feels kind of floppy and not particularly well bolted together over jarring pavement (soft suspension masks this some of the time).

    • 0 avatar

      +1 on the K. But in this case, you’re preaching to the choir.

      Toyota’s new TNGA seems excellent. I enjoyed my ride in the newest Prius and it has soared to the top of Toyota’s reliability rankings in CR (even displacing the Toyota Prius C which was the higher watermark of quality for modern Toyota). I don’t recall the last time Toyota launched a new vehicle into its highest quality echelon was the 2002 4Runner or the 2011 CT200h?

      It bodes very well for future Toyotas, though. They definitely hit a rough patch in quality from about 2006 until the gas pedal problem. But they’re back to their old ways. The 2016 Camrys seem screwed together much better than the 2011 Camrys. And I’m confident they’re really going to get TNGA dialed in when the Highlander / Corolla / Camry / Rav4 are all on it. The volumes will be insane – something like 80% of Toyota’s volume will be on TNGA by 2021.

      • 0 avatar

        Glad to hear the positive first impressions, certainly sounds encouraging!

        yeah the 6th gen Camry is fairly universally panned, and I’d say it deserves it. These refreshed 7th gens are finally righting the boat IMO, but boy we’ve got a ways to go (I doubt we’ll ever see a “fat” 92-96 Camry ever again).

  • avatar

    I really hope VW uses this as an opportunity to address their quality problems. The platform is great and it seems like it could be CAFE 2025 complaint.
    Unfortunately, their quality problems aren’t really due to poorly made components, it’s bad design. It’s a shame they don’t do a hyundai circa 2008 and go back to the basics – stick with proven technology, refine it in conservative ways, and carefully apply new technology.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny you should say that, yamahog – because that’s exactly what Audi did with their MLB architecture – the longitudinal variant of MQB. Creating a modular architecture allows them to more easily swap in/out components. The 2.0TFSI went through two major revisions during the B8 series vehicles, that also included upgrades to infotainment modules, steering modules, going from hydraulic to electric, etc. The B8 product was a major leap forward in overall reliability for Audi.

      MQB will likely afford the same flexibility and improved reliability for Volkswagen. Where problems are more likely to creep in is in the localized sourcing of components.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t dispute that Audi is headed in the right direction. But I thought it was on the strength of the Q vehicles. Though my friend’s 2000 B5 S4 that’s been tuned too highly would make nearly any other car look like a W123/Land Cruiser in terms of reliability and hassle-free ownership and perhaps that B5 S4 is a poor basis of comparison.

        But some of the issues they addressed on the B8s should have been non-issues. The piston ring / oil consumption issue? C’mon Toyota hasn’t had that issue since 2002, Honda and BMW have never had that particular issue, and that puts them on par with Subaru (one of the weakest engine manufacturers IMO). Though VAG has some real gem engines and Subaru doesn’t (and sorry guys the FA seems good compared to all other subaru engines but it doesn’t cut the mustard when its compared to good inline-4s).

        There are enough issues on VWs that just haven’t been solved or don’t exist on other cars. It seems like there are still carbon build up issues on some of the direct injected engines – and that’s not a problem that’s going away with a change of valve suppliers.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m not making excuses for them, yamahog, but like in any business: there are tradeoffs. No doubt, they have the ability to fix some of these issues, but the cost to do so may not be feasible at this time.

          Enthusiasts in these parts complain about Mazdas rusting out and having poor NVH, the Honda Odyssey has been notorious for eating transmissions for the past ten years, Subaru valve gasket leaks, etc.

          Work your way up to Porsche and Mercedes S class levels and there will still be issues that those of us who don’t make the financial and engineering decisions cannot believe are still problems at the price points these vehicles are sold.

  • avatar

    This is corporate-speak for “we are out of money, so we will keep selling the current model for many more years. It has lots of German Engineering (R) in it, so it’s good enough. My paycheck is pretty nice, and this way I can keep getting it. We think that Nissan was pretty smart to sell the Tsuru in Mexico for decades, so we will be following that model for as far as the eye can see.”

  • avatar

    From the jump, the original idea behind MQB was to move automotive design and assembly to a modular platform where the only fixed variables are the mounting points in the engine bay back to the pedal box in the cockpit. Everything else is variable.

    With that premise in mind, there’s no reason why this basic architecture shouldn’t underpin the company for many years to come, since designers have (near) infinite flexibility and engineers can focus not on reinventing the wheel every few years, but to refining things incrementally.

    Engines, infotainment, suspension, steering, braking, transmissions and HVAC and more are now modular and can be swapped in and out so long as they adhere to basic mounting standards.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    It is only people who post here that worry about changes in suspension geometry.
    This is not rocket science, Surely, this all should have been worked out years ago. Only budgets prevents finessing the platforms.

  • avatar

    I’ve heard this before – all complaints about an OEM keeping a platform around longer than some like. So what?

    On the surface, I see nothing but good reasons to keep an older platform around if it is a good one. That way, I assume continual improvements can be made to keep it current, thus making a car more reliable rather than constantly re-inventing the wheel, so to speak, as stated above.

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