By 2015, Volkswagen will have 60 different models from its various brands all riding on one common platform, replacing the separate front-wheel-drive platforms used for compact, mid-size, and large cars.
VW is supposedly finalizing development of the platform, known as MQB, which will underpin everything from the next-generation Audi A6 to the Volkswagen Lupo, and will debut on the 2011 Audi A3. This shows the extreme range of vehicles that will be able to use the architecture, and how the German giant will still be able to differentiate the cars that are based on the same platform.
“It gives us the possibility to produce models from different segments and in varying sizes using the same basic front-end architecture,” Ulrich Hackenberg, head of VW research and development, told Autocar. “We can go from a typical hatchback to a sedan, cabriolet and SUV with only detailed changes to the size of the wheel carriers.”
Part of the key to the platform’s flexibility is the relationship between the front axle and the pedals; the distance is always constant no matter the size of the car using the platform. This alone reduces the number of engine mounting architectures VW uses on its front-wheel-drive based cars from the current 18 to two. VW engineered the MQB architecture to allow for a greater variance in track width, wheelbase, and wheel size (as evidenced by the variety of cars it will be used on), as well as front- or all-wheel-drive.
With the new MQB architecture, VW’s highest volume models should see around 60 to 70 percent parts commonality. This will save VW an estimated €1 billion per year. This doesn't mean all the new VW’s will be the same. It only means high volume models such as the VW Jetta and Golf will see such a high percentage of commonality. Higher-end Audi models will still see bespoke (and premium) parts.