Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

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Thread: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

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    Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?
    Reuters
    February 11, 2013
    by Laurence Frost and Andreas Cremer and Paul Lienert

    BERLIN/DETROIT (Reuters) - Ulrich Hackenberg isn't yet a household name but if Volkswagen's $70 billion bet on his big idea pays off, he may join the likes of Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan and Taiichi Ohno in the canon of auto industry pioneers.

    Since the heyday of Henry Ford and his Model T, the world's automakers have considered the "global car" to be their Holy Grail - the same basic design that can be built, in subtle variations, and sold in different markets.

    Take that fundamental concept, stretch it across many different vehicle types, sizes and brands, then build them by the millions, and you begin to sense the enormity of Volkswagen's rapidly evolving "mega-platform" strategy and its potential impact on competitors around the globe.

    Auto engineer Hackenberg nurtured this bright idea for three decades, after early pitches to auto executives were largely ignored, until somebody finally bought it wholesale. The man who bit was Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn.

    Hackenberg's fundamental rethink of vehicle platforms, the industrial Lego from which cars are designed and made, is helping power the German company to the top of the global sales charts several years ahead of its 2018 target. It could also make VW one of the most profitable carmakers in the world.

    The strategy is not without risk. It could, for instance, expose Volkswagen to the threat of a massive global recall if a single part, used in millions of cars, fails.

    But rivals have taken note of the power behind its move. Volkswagen's modular platforms are being benchmarked by most of the world's top automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp and Ford Motor Co, according to company executives.

    Full article at link.
    Last edited by nruggiero; 02-11-2013 at 02:13 PM. Reason: Formatting: Please refer to the guide at the top of the Suggest a News Article forum before entering an article.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Very interesting, but long article. At first I didn't see what VW is doing differently than GM et al, but once I read the entire article I undersood the magnitude of what VW is doing. GM might be getting caught with their pants down (and everyone else) as they focus on getting their global platforms where VW WAS (not where VW is now).

    A few years ago when VW announced their plans for world domination I didn't take it seriously. Now I do.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    Very interesting, but long article. At first I didn't see what VW is doing differently than GM et al, but once I read the entire article I undersood the magnitude of what VW is doing. GM might be getting caught with their pants down (and everyone else) as they focus on getting their global platforms where VW WAS (not where VW is now).

    A few years ago when VW announced their plans for world domination I didn't take it seriously. Now I do.
    For GM to match VW's MQB platform capabilities they need to combine Delta, Epsilon, Theta, Lambda & possibly Gamma.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by dslay04 View Post
    For GM to match VW's MQB platform capabilities they need to combine Delta, Epsilon, Theta, Lambda & possibly Gamma.
    Yes - absolutely huge change. And the savings will be huge and impact VW's ability to undercut their competitors. Now I understand why VW isn't struggling in Europe vs all the other makes.

    Though, unlike VW/Audi, I'd prefer to see Caddy remain on unique platforms.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by dslay04 View Post
    For GM to match VW's MQB platform capabilities they need to combine Delta, Epsilon, Theta, Lambda & possibly Gamma.
    but all of VW MQB cars/MPVs are a lot closer to each other then GM's IE MQB bill not under pin the large Audi and VW doesn't make an Impala sized car
    but they NEED to get there cars onto less platforms and use LESS engines (the engines are coming down well)

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Interesting, I think most manufactures are trying to get to this.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    Though, unlike VW/Audi, I'd prefer to see Caddy remain on unique platforms.
    I think the number of people in the world that know the difference between Sigma and Zeta, shop in the luxury car segment, like Cadillacs, and would not buy a Cadillac if it shares parts with a Chevrolet is so small that GM would be foolish to pay attention.

    As long as the next Cadillacs are genuinely world-class-awesome, it doesn't matter how many parts they share with a Chevy Sonic. I suspect Mercedes is trying to figure out how to share more parts between Mercedes and Smart, and BMW is trying to share more parts between BMW and Mini, and of course we already know Lexus and Infiniti share a lot with Toyota and Nissan, respectively. The only "pure luxury platform" brands will be the ones that don't have any downmarket corporate cousins.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Now the GM Board knows where to poach their next CEO from.
    Yeah, right. GM will let Akerson run GM into the ground

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    I find a few things odd/funny.
    • If GM were to share parts to this level certain people would lose their minds.
    • The sharing sounds like a good idea, but betting the farm like this is a huge risk. And if they really only have one platform, won't that end up making all their vehicles look more or less alike? In a world where we're tired of seeing the same things over and over this may well be a huge blunder. Saving money at the expense of style is never a good idea.
    • VW still has to get over their reputation in terms of quality. I've never known anyone who had a good experience with a VW.

    It will be interesting to watch this pan out but I can't see how they can make little cars and big CUVs from the same platform.
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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by zete View Post
    I find a few things odd/funny.
    • If GM were to share parts to this level certain people would lose their minds.
    • The sharing sounds like a good idea, but betting the farm like this is a huge risk. And if they really only have one platform, won't that end up making all their vehicles look more or less alike? In a world where we're tired of seeing the same things over and over this may well be a huge blunder. Saving money at the expense of style is never a good idea.
    • VW still has to get over their reputation in terms of quality. I've never known anyone who had a good experience with a VW.

    It will be interesting to watch this pan out but I can't see how they can make little cars and big CUVs from the same platform.
    Great questions, Zete. Previous efforts to create this sort of platform synergy didn't end well.

    Only time will tell if VW gets it right!
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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by zete View Post
    I find a few things odd/funny.
    • If GM were to share parts to this level certain people would lose their minds.
    • The sharing sounds like a good idea, but betting the farm like this is a huge risk. And if they really only have one platform, won't that end up making all their vehicles look more or less alike? In a world where we're tired of seeing the same things over and over this may well be a huge blunder. Saving money at the expense of style is never a good idea.
    • VW still has to get over their reputation in terms of quality. I've never known anyone who had a good experience with a VW.

    It will be interesting to watch this pan out but I can't see how they can make little cars and big CUVs from the same platform.
    IMHO, they are already beginning to look alike. That is not so important for VW, but the sub-brands will lose steam. Audis are already starting to look like VWs.

    I think if you go to far with platform sharing you end up with problems that Acura is having or as with Honda: a best in class midsize car, a very good minivan, a mediocre at best SUV, and a bottom of the barrel pickup truck.
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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by zete View Post
    The sharing sounds like a good idea, but betting the farm like this is a huge risk. And if they really only have one platform, won't that end up making all their vehicles look more or less alike? In a world where we're tired of seeing the same things over and over this may well be a huge blunder.
    Definitely not.



    Those 4 cars are all based on the (pre-MBQ) PQ35 platform, but I don't think anyone would argue that they look more or less alike. And MQB is far more flexible than PQ35 because all dimensions except for the distance between the front axle and the pedals are variable, including width(!) and wheelbase.

    What they're standardizing are things like the engine mount hard points. All engines will be tilted backwards by 12° and have the exhaust on the firewall side. That means they can go from 12 different bell housings to 1.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    The concept of a "platform" seems to be interpreted as a basis upon which the cars are built. However I don't think this is the case with VW. They are making what are essentially interchangeable parts and components that can be combined together in many different ways to obtain suitable results. In that sense I don't see the cars becoming "too similar" as an issue.

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    Volkswagen is bloated and will soon come crashing all down. I can see a feast of the Germans, the Chinese GM and Ford, since Japanese companies do not play at these feasts

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    Re: Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

    I do find the A4 and A6 and the Jetta and Passat tend to look similar to me. I know my wife has commented on the fact she can't distinguish them. Sure, she's not car nut but the fact a normal person can't easily tell them apart would indicate that it could be detrimental to Audi in particular.

    Other than the grills, I do find the cars awfully similar, especially the A6 and the Passat.





    Or perhaps an A4 is a better comparison?

    Last edited by zete; 02-11-2013 at 09:31 PM.
    "Christians should not hold dumb opinions about the natural world based solely on misreadings of the Bible, especially opinions that can be demonstrably falsified by Reason, lest the Faith be subject to ridicule and mockery." -- St. Augustine of Hippo.

    "Stop being dicks to the poor." Pope Francis, paraphrased.

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