We could call this the platform sharing decade in the automotive history as more and more global stalwarts are resorting to the one-platform-many-vehicles strategy.
The basic reason is to reduce the costs, improve flexibility in manufacturing and also to make component sourcing easier. For example if a sedan and a crossover are based on the same platform, they’ll naturally have lots of common components and hence can be assembled in the same assembly line, reducing factory costs. The split between the production numbers can be based on the market demand.
VW started it in the big way with their MQB platform which will underpin as many as 40 future models of the VW Group, right from the VW Polo, Skoda Fabia all the way to Passat and Superb. We will also see Volvo taking the same route with their Scalable Platform Architecture.
Now, Honda is also reportedly mulling a similar strategy by uniting their three big volume generators, the Honda Accord, Civic and the CR-V into a single platform family.
The move is expected to save around 30% in procurement costs over a period of 3-4 years enabling Honda to go for a competitive pricing strategy, especially in emerging markets.
To further drive down the costs, Honda is also reportedly considering to outsource the design, manufacturing and assembly of components to their vendors who will supply the sub-assemblies as per the set specifications instead of components.
The platform sharing is expected to take effect in 2017 with Accord being the likely candidate to get the platform first since by that time, it would be time for the birth of next gen Accord. Honda is also planning to double their investment in select component vendors in emerging markets.