Volkswagen Group currently has four platforms that it using for electric vehicles but by the end of the decade the automaker plans to downsize to a single, highly flexible platform capable of spawning models in all brands and segments.
Details of the new platform, known as the Scalable Systems Platform, or SSP for short, were announced on Tuesday during VW Group's annual general meeting.
The SSP platform will first appear around 2026 in a compact, low-slung vehicle from the Volkswagen brand, code-named Project Trinity. It won't be completely developed from scratch but will rather leverage the best parts of the MEB platform designed for mainstream EVs and the upcoming PPE platform designed for premium EVs.
Teaser for Volkswagen Project Trinity due in 2026
The MEB platform is already found in vehicles like the VW ID.3 and ID.4 while the PPE platform will arrive next year in five vehicles, two of which are known to be an electric Porsche Macan and a related Audi Q5 E-Tron.
“We are taking the platform approach to a new level,” VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said. “By providing strong unified platforms our brands can unleash their full potential and synergies. Our MEB platform serves as a proof of concept."
This standardized approach will extend beyond the platform. VW Group on Monday said it will introduce a common battery cell design in 2023. The automaker's goal is to have approximately 80% of its EVs using a common cell design by 2030.
Standardization of software will also be vital, Diess said. The automaker in 2020 established the Car.Software division whose goal is to develop and maintain a company-specific operating system dubbed VW.OS, just like Apple with iOS and Google with Android. Version 1.2 of the new OS will be introduced with the PPE platform and version 2.0 will be introduced with the SSP platform. At this point, VW Group estimates it will be developing 60% of its car software in-house, as opposed to 10% today. The automaker also predicts it will become Europe's second-biggest software company, behind SAP.
The Car.Software division will also be responsible for the development and integration of self-driving systems for private use. For commercial use, VW Group is relying on self-driving technology startup Argo AI which counts VW Group along with Ford as key investors.
The new strategy will enable the VW Group to reduce complexity, leverage economies of scale and synergies between brands, and generally accelerate the automaker's transformation into a software-led company. The automaker said its individual brands will also be able to focus more on the traits that define them.