In today’s ever-changing global economy, reduction of manufacturing costs is the surest way to boost profitability. Each new platform, for example, requires unique tooling, unique production methods and (in some cases) unique assembly lines.

The idea of sharing platforms across multiple vehicles and even multiple segments is nothing new, but lately manufacturers have taken to streamlining like never before.

Volvo, for example, has announced its “Scalable Platform Architecture,” which will ultimately let the automaker build anything from a C30 through an S80 on a single platform.

Volkswagen is now embracing the same idea with its Modular Transverse Matrix platform, abbreviated as MQB in German. Shared between Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi and Seat, the MQB platform will be used to build models ranging from the Polo hatchback all the way through the Passat sedan.

One advantage of the MQB platform is a uniform mounting position for all available engines. The MQB is designed to accommodate Volkswagen’s new Modular Petrol Engine System (MOB, in German), and combined will reduce engine, gearbox and chassis combinations by roughly 90 percent.

The MQB was engineered with an eye on the future as well. All current alternative drive concepts (such as electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles and hybrid vehicles) will work with the new common platform.

The MQB’s flexibility will allow Volkswagen to tailor vehicles to specific markets in a more cost effective manner than ever before. The associated cost reduction is expected to help growth in emerging markets such as India, and platform standardization will allow the automaker to include features previously reserved for luxury cars.

Under the Volkswagen family umbrella, the MQB platform joins Audi’s Modular Longitudinal System (MLB) and Porsche’s Modular Standard System (MSB). Look for the MQB to debut in the next generation Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3.