General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] currently uses 26 platforms for its variety of vehicles sold all over the globe, but under the leadership of new CEO Mary Barra the American auto giant could see the number of core platforms reduced to just four by 2025. We say core platforms as specialty vehicles like the Chevrolet Corvette and some heavy-duty pickups and vans are likely to remain on standalone platforms, even when 2025 rolls around.
The information was revealed by Barra at an investor briefing last week, attended by Reuters. She explained that the move will allow GM to save on components, tooling and other manufacturing-related expenses as well as speed up development times. It’s a strategy many rival firms either already employ or are in the process of adopting, including the BMW Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F], Mercedes-Benz, Renault-Nissan, Toyota and the Volkswagen Group.
GM has been heading in this direction for some time. Back in 2011, it was reported that the automaker was working to have around 90 percent of its global fleet built off shared platforms, up from about a third of its vehicles at that time. And at the recent investor briefing, Barra said, “it's something we've been working on for more than a couple years,” adding, “we've done extensive benchmarking (and) there's been tremendous progress made already."
Barra didn’t mention how GM’s fleet would be divided up among four core platforms but there will likely be a platform for subcompact and compact cars (D2XX); another for larger front-wheel-drive cars and crossovers (E2XX); a rear-wheel-drive platform for performance cars, upmarket sedans and crossovers (Alpha/Omega); and a rear-wheel-drive platform for large pickup trucks and SUVs (K2XX).
The downside is that it will cost billions to transform GM’s current operations, including retooling most of its plants to suit the new platforms. But while the initial outlays may be costly, the future savings are likely to be substantial. As a sign of what’s possible, the VW Group, the leader in the field, intends on building close to 8 million vehicles based on just its MQB platform by 2020.