Ulrich Hackenberg, an automobile engineer at Volkswagen, has quite possibly designed the greatest innovation in automobile industry: A "global car" with "the same basic design that can be
built, in subtle variations, and sold in different markets."
Volkswagen's work on its largest mega-platform, known internally as MQB, began
in earnest in 2007 and is being implemented over the next six years at a
cost of nearly $70 billion, estimates Morgan Stanley.
What is MQB?
It's the largest mega platform, "a fundamental rethink of vehicle platforms, the industrial Lego from which cars are designed and made."
"VW has just begun to implement its
sophisticated and highly flexible platform with the deceptively simple
label MQB, a German acronym for "modular transverse matrix." Virtually
all of the group's small and medium front-wheel-drive family models,
including the latest generations of the VW Golf and Audi A3, are being
designed around MQB as their base.
The new platform features a far greater degree of
plug-and-play modularity, flexibility and parts commonality than at
Toyota, General Motors Co, Ford and other competitors."
1. Cost Savings. Amazing operational efficiencies. Industry-leading levels of commonality. Projected annual gross savings by 2019: $19 billion
2. Game changer. MQB "could be the single most important automotive initiative of the
past 25 years," says Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS
Consulting in Northville, Michigan.
3. Leverage. VM may boost global
sales to 10 million or more, with 6.3 million built on some
variation of the MQB platform, according to U.S. research firm IHS
4. Modularity. Design, engineer and
build a wide variety of vehicle size and shapes - from a subcompact Polo
hatchback to a full-size, seven-passenger crossover.
5. Flexibility. Create more cars
that are more tailored for specific markets at a lower cost.
"The sense from competitors and auto analysts is that VW's rollout of MQB
is likely to be as influential as such earlier innovations as Ford's
adaptation of standardized parts, GM's "ladder" of brands and Toyota's
streamlined production system." Has VW hit the jackpot? Would it surpass Toyota as the world's largest automaker?