Issue: May 2006


Enhanced Usage of Modules to Result in Implementation of Flexible Vehicle Platform Strategies



by Magdalena Oberland

Automakers in the European automotive market are increasingly implementing platform strategies that involve the sharing and standardisation of components to optimise costs and establish an efficient manufacturing process. To this end, automakers are focusing on strategies of platform sharing across varied car segments by enhancing the flexibility of these platforms.

"Platform synergies were created across all models under different brands but belonging to the same vehicle segment as a result of mergers and market consolidation in the pre-2005 period", remarks Frost & Sullivan
(http://www.transportation.frost.com) Research Analyst Mr. Vigneshwaran Chandran. "However, in future, the spurt in the usage of flexible architecture is expected to support the growing trend of sharing components across vehicle segments."

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) strategies are shifting from standard platforms towards flexible architecture that allows the manufacture of vehicles with varying track and wheelbase dimensions. Sharing architectures across varied car segments and brands will offer vehicle manufacturers the flexibility of building cheaper car models with improved time to market.

Hence, manufacturers are working towards incorporating these strategies to build vehicles of varying design and features with a high degree of standard components and modules. The decrease in the number of disparate components required as a result of standardisation will assist in simplifying inventory tracking and logistics, thus facilitating the implementation of an effective and efficient manufacturing system.

However, the huge risk associated with sharing platforms remains a concern, as flaws associated with a specific platform are likely to be distributed across all car models built upon the same components. Further, rectification of these flaws might require a number of recalls and re-designs, resulting in significant expenditure.

"The desired cost savings through platforms can be disrupted by costly mistakes and recalls that will affect all models built on a specific platform", says Mr. Chandran. "Also, the standardised components or modules of a specific platform/architecture will need to be compatible with the differentiating model-specific parts to enable overall smooth functioning."

As the concept of replacing platforms with flexible architecture gains importance, the manner in which vehicle suppliers are organised in the market is likely to witness a significant transformation. The trend of designating suppliers to provide a complete platform, instead of individual models, will gain acceptance, thus allowing suppliers to boost their sales volumes. This will enable them to improve their value-addition through better integration, as well as lower costs as a result of economies of scale.

Further, with OEMs increasingly outsourcing complete module responsibilities, suppliers will face greater responsibilities and are likely to be involved in the early stages of the vehicle development process.
Accordingly, suppliers need to focus on gaining better capabilities and know-how that will assist them in their collaboration with vehicle manufacturers.

If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end users and other industry participants with an overview of the latest Analysis of European OEMs' Vehicle Platform Strategies, send an e-mail to Magdalena Oberland, Corporate Communications, at magdalena.oberland@frost.com with the following information: your full name, company name, title, telephone number, e-mail address, city, state and country. We will send you the information through e-mail upon receipt of the above information.

Analysis of European OEMs' Vehicle Platform Strategies is part of the Transportation Subscription, which provides a description of various vehicle platforms and architecture as well as overall platform trends. It also describes various vehicle manufacturers' platform strategies, current models and platform consolidation data by segments. This research service also analyses the impact of platform strategies on suppliers' business. All research is evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants

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