Alan Mulally helped steer Ford through the previous decade's global financial crisis by moving the automaker's global lineup onto a core set of platforms under a strategy known as One Ford. It saw Ford go from 30 platforms prior to Mulally joining as CEO in 2006 down to nine in 2015, a year after Mulally passed the reins on to Mark Fields.
Current Ford CEO Jim Hackett sees the opportunity to trim further fat by dropping the platform count to just five for both the Ford and Lincoln brands. The information was revealed Wednesday by Ford's man in charge of product development and purchasing, Hau Thai-Tang, during an investor meeting in New York City, Automotive News (subscription required) reports.
The five platforms are as follows:
- RWD/AWD body-on-frame
- RWD/AWD unibody
- FWD/AWD unibody
- Commercial van unibody
- Electric car unibody
Interestingly, there's no separate platform for sports cars, suggesting the next-generation Mustang will be based on the RWD/AWD unibody platform. This is a new platform that Ford is expected to introduce in its Lincoln Aviator due on sale in 2019.
According to Thai-Tang, up to 70 percent of a vehicle's value can be managed through the use of shared, highly modular platforms. It's a strategy that the world's two biggest automakers, Toyota and the Volkswagen Group, have successfully implemented for years.
Another benefit of the modular approach is a boost to efficiencies, particularly in the time it takes to develop new vehicles. Ford has previously said that shared platforms could reduce development times by around 20 percent.
Reducing the number of platforms is part of a wider strategy at Ford to cut costs by $25.5 billion over the next five years, a move Hackett describes as improving Ford's fitness. The strategy will also see Ford shake up its vehicle portfolio, particularly in North America where the automaker sees the shift toward utility-type vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks and commercial vans as permanent. It's why Ford will have just two passenger cars on sale in North America by around 2020: the Mustang and Focus Active (a soft-roader version of the redesigned 2020 Focus.)