2013 Ford Fusion

2013 Ford Fusion

Ford is accelerating plans to reduce the number of vehicle platforms it uses across the globe to just nine by the end of 2013, pushing the plan one year ahead of schedule.

The move mirrors the successful strategy of automakers such as Volkswagen and Toyota in which a small subset of core platforms are used for multiple models sold across the globe.

The information was revealed by Ford global marketing chief Jim Farley at the recent Automotive News World Congress.

"It won't be 11 platforms" as earlier planned, Farley said. "It will be nine by the end of 2013."

Farley didn’t mention which platforms would be the next to go but by 2013 we will see roughly 85 percent of Ford’s global lineup ride on the remaining nine platforms, reports Autoweek. Those remaining nine platforms will be broken down into two main groups: global and regional.

In the global group there will be five platforms, a B-platform used for subcompacts like the Fiesta, a C-platform used for compacts like the Focus, a C/D-platform used for mid-size cars like the new Fusion and its Mondeo-twin, a light truck platform used for the Ranger pickup sold overseas, and a commercial vehicle platform used for the Transit van.

Platforms in the regional group are more specific to key markets and include unique designs like the one currently underpinning the F-Series pickup truck line or the one used in Australia's Ford Falcon sedan and Territory SUV.

In addition to reducing complexity, sharing of platforms allows for more common parts to be used between vehicles which improve purchasing power, shortening of development times, and improved production efficiency. No surprise that most major automakers are following the trend, including General Motors, which we reported last year was looking to reduce the number of platforms it uses from 30 down to 14 by the end of this year.