30 January 2019
VW platform essential for empire building
by Patrick McGee
Volkswagen’s leadership in platform-sharing was borne of necessity after its multi-decade empire-building phase, in which it absorbed Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche.
The VW Group now operates 12 brands compared with just five at Toyota and four at General Motors.
The idea behind “platform sharing” is for a variety of cars to share the same chassis and underbody. This saves money, but it can result in cookie-cutter-like monotony. Critics once derided it as “badge engineering” because nothing was different but the name of the car.
In the 2000s, VW took the concept further, pioneering “modular” production with its MQB combustion engine chassis. Instead of just sharing the same tangible parts, cars built on this chassis share “a set of dimensions”, said Julie Boote, analyst at Pelham Smithers Associates Ltd.