The Info List - Automobile Platform

A car platform is a shared set of common design, engineering, and production efforts, as well as major components over a number of outwardly distinct models and even types of cars, often from different, but related marques.[2] It is practiced in the automotive industry to reduce the costs associated with the development of products by basing those products on a smaller number of platforms. This further allows companies to create distinct models from a design perspective on similar underpinnings.[2]


1 Definition and benefits 2 Examples 3 Advantages 4 Disadvantages 5 Top Hat 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Definition and benefits[edit] Platform sharing is a product development method where different products and the brand attached share the same components.[3] The purpose with platform sharing is to reduce the cost and have a more efficient product development process.[4] The companies gain on reduced procurement cost by taking advantage of the commonality of the components. However, this also limits their ability to differentiate the products and imposes a risk of losing the tangible uniqueness of the product. The companies have to make a trade-off between reducing their development costs and the degree of differentiation of the products.[3] One of the first car companies to use this product development approach was General Motors
General Motors
in 1908. A basic definition of a platform in cars, from a technical point of view, includes: underbody and suspensions (with axles) — where the underbody is made of front floor, underfloor, engine compartment and frame (reinforcement of underbody).[5] Key mechanical components that define an automobile platform include:

The floorpan, which serves as a foundation for the chassis and other structural and mechanical components Front and rear axles and the distance between them - wheelbase Steering
mechanism and type of power steering Type of front and rear suspensions Placement and choice of engine and other powertrain components

Examples of cars sharing the Fiat Mini platform

Ford Ka 

Fiat Panda 

Fiat 500 

Fiat Uno 

Lancia Ypsilon 

Vehicle platform-sharing combined with advanced and flexible-manufacturing technology enables automakers to sharply reduce product development and changeover times, while modular design and assembly allow building a greater variety of vehicles from one basic set of engineered components.[6] Many vendors refer to this as product or vehicle architecture. The concept of product architecture is the scheme by which the function of a product is allocated to physical components.[7] The use of a platform strategy provides several benefits:[5]

Greater flexibility between plants (the possibility of transferring production from one plant to another due to standardization), Cost reduction achieved through using resources on a global scale, Increased use of plants (higher productivity due to the reduction in the number of differences), and Reduction of the number of platforms as a result of their localization on a worldwide basis.

The car platform strategy has become important in new product development and in the innovation process.[8] The finished products have to be responsive to market needs and to demonstrate distinctiveness while — at the same time — they must be developed and produced at low cost.[5] Adopting such a strategy affects the development process and also has an important impact on an automaker's organizational structure.[5] A platform strategy also offers advantages for the globalization process of automobile firms.[9] Because the majority of time and money by an automaker is spent on the development of platforms, platform sharing affords manufacturers the ability to cut costs on research and development by spreading the cost of the R&D over several product lines. Manufacturers are then able to offer products at a lower cost to consumers. Additionally, economies of scale are increased, as is return on investment.[2][10] Examples[edit] Originally, a "platform" was a literally shared chassis from a previously-engineered vehicle, as in the case for the Citroën 2CV platform chassis used by the Citroën Ami
Citroën Ami
and Citroën Dyane, and Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen Beetle
frame under the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Platform sharing has been a common practice since the 1960s when GM used the same platform in the development of the Pontiac LeMans, the Buick Skylark, the Chevrolet Chevelle, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass. In the 1980s, Chrysler's K-cars all wore a badge with the letter "K" to indicate their shared platform. In later stages, the "K" platform was extended in wheelbase, as well as use for several of the Corporation's different models.

Fiat Croma

Cadillac BLS

Opel Vectra
Opel Vectra

GM used similar strategies with its "J" platform that debuted in mid-1981 in four of GM's divisions. Subsequent to that, GM introduced its "A" bodies for the same four divisions using the same tread width/wheelbase of the "X" body platform, but with larger body work to make the cars seem larger, and with larger trunk compartments. They were popular through the 1980s, primarily. Even Cadillac started offering a "J" body model called the Cimarron, a much gussied up version of the other four brands' platform siblings. A similar strategy applied to what is known as the N-J-L platform, arguably the most prolific of GM's efforts on one platform. Once more, GM's four lower level divisions all offered various models on this platform throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.

1986 Opel Ascona
Opel Ascona

1988 Pontiac Sunbird

1988 Cadillac Cimarron

Daewoo Espero

Japanese carmakers have followed the platform sharing practice with Honda's Acura
line, Nissan's Infiniti
brand, and Toyota's Lexus marque, as the entry-level luxury models are based on their mainstream lineup. For example, the Lexus ES
Lexus ES
is essentially an upgraded and rebadged Toyota
Camry.[11][12][13][14] After Daimler-Benz
purchased Chrysler, Chrysler
engineers used several M-B platforms for new models including the Crossfire which was based on the M-B SLK roadster.[15] Other models that share platforms are the European Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and the Volvo S40.[16] Differences between shared models typically involve styling, including headlights, tail lights, and front and rear fascias. Examples also involve differing engines and drivetrains. In some cases such as the Lexus ES
Lexus ES
that is a Toyota
Camry, "same car, same blueprints, same skeleton off the same assembly line in the same factory", but the Lexus
is marketed with premium coffee in the dealership's showroom and reduced greens fees at Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach Golf Links
as part of the higher-priced badge.[17] Platform sharing may be less noticeable now; however, it is still very apparent. Vehicle architectures primarily consist of "under the skin" components, and shared platforms can show up in unusual places, like the Nissan
FM platform-mates Nissan
350Z sports car and Infiniti
FX SUV. Volkswagen A platform-mates like the Audi TT
Audi TT
and Volkswagen Golf also share much of their mechanical components but seem visually entirely different. Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group
and Toyota
have both had much success building many well differentiated vehicles from many marques, from the same platforms. One of the least conspicuous recent examples is the Chevy Trailblazer
Chevy Trailblazer
and Chevy SSR; both use the GMT-360 platform. Advantages[edit]

Easier inventory management/smaller number of parts Platform sharing allows for fewer parts for different models of vehicles and therefore the task of inventorying those parts is greatly reduced.[2] Lower development costs Platform sharing allows manufacturers to cover many different market segments when a platform sharing strategy is implemented. This is exemplified by Ford Motor Co. in the case of the Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Mountaineer
and Lincoln Aviator. They are essentially the same only they are considered mass-market, near luxury and luxury vehicles.[10] Increased quality and innovation Platform sharing allows manufacturers to design parts with fewer variation. A byproduct of this is increased quality, which results in lower defect rates.[2] Global standardization Platform sharing allows manufacturers to design flexible platforms that can be tailored to a country's specific needs without compromising quality. It also allows for manufacturing standardization and improved logistics.[2] Greater product variety Platform sharing allows manufacturers to build/design differentiated products faster and cheaper. This is possible because the development and cost of the original platform have already been paid for.[2]


Badge engineering Manufacturers that practice platform sharing have the ability to create several models based on the same design, but with different names. This leads to the public looking over certain models and cannibalized sales from competing divisions with essentially the same product. This was prevalent among U.S. domestic manufactures from the 1970s onward, e.g., the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Saab 9-7X, Oldsmobile Bravada, and Isuzu Ascender.[2][15][18] Incompatible changes to platforms The two elements of platforms are constant and non-constant. If the non-constant elements are not designed to be easily integrated into the constant elements of the platform, extensive and expensive changes will have to be made in order to make the elements compatible again. Failure to do so negates the purpose of platform sharing in that it increases costs as opposed to reducing them.[2][10] Product dilution Platform sharing has the ability to be used in too many different models. However, in the mind of the consumers, the products may be too similar and more expensive products may be perceived to be cheaper.[2] For example, the perceived value of a "luxury" brand may be not as desirable if it is too similar to a mass-market version of the same platform. Conversely, platform sharing may increase the price of the economic models.[2] Examples of luxury vehicles that suffered from being based on economy platforms include the Cadillac Cimarron, the Chrysler
TC by Maserati, the Maybach 57 and 62
Maybach 57 and 62
and the Jaguar X-Type. Risk concentration/higher recall rate The propensity for a higher number of recall is greatly increased with platform sharing. If a defect is found in one model and that model shares its platform with ten other models, the recall would be magnified by ten thus costing the manufacturer more time and money to fix.[2][10] An example of problems spreading across platforms and numerous versions of models are the 2009–11 Toyota
vehicle recalls.

Top Hat[edit] In automotive design, the top hat is one or more vehicle upper body structures that can share a common platform. The upper body could vary from crossover to a sedan or coupe thereby creating economies of scale and product differentiation.[19] See also[edit]

List of Chrysler
platforms List of Fiat platforms List of Ford platforms List of GM platforms List of Hyundai-Kia platforms List of Mazda platforms List of Mitsubishi platforms List of Nissan
platforms List of Toyota
platforms List of Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group


^ Edmonston, Phil (2003). Lemon-Aid Used Cars and Minivans 2004. Penguin Group. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-670-04375-0. Retrieved 6 November 2010. Used luxury cars can be great buys, if you ignore all the hype, know how to separate symbol from substance, and are smart enough to know that most of the high-end models don't give you much more than their lower-priced entry-level versions. For example, the Lexus ES
Lexus ES
300 is a Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry
with a higher price.  ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Brylawski, Michael (27–29 September 1999). "Uncommon Knowledge: Automobile Platform Sharing's Potential Impact on Advanced Technologies, pre-print for the 1st International Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) Automotive Conference". International Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering. Archived from the original on 28 November 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010  ^ a b Olson, Erik L (2008). "Implication of platformsharing on brand value". Journal of product and brand management. 17.  ^ Robertson, David; Ulrich Karl (1998). "Planning for product platforms". Sloan management. 39.  ^ a b c d Muffatto, Moreno (20 April 1999). "Introducing a platform strategy in product development". International Journal of Production Economics. 60-61: 145–153. doi:10.1016/S0925-5273(98)00173-X  ^ Schlie, Erik; Yip, George (August 2000). "Regional follows global: strategy mixes in the world automotive industry". European Management Journal. 18 (4): 343–354. doi:10.1016/S0263-2373(00)00019-0  ^ Ulrich, Karl (1995). "The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm". Research Policy. 24 (3): 419–441. doi:10.1016/0048-7333(94)00775-3  ^ Muffatto, Moreno (1999). "Platform strategies in international new product development". International Journal of Operations & Production Management. 19 (5/6): 449–460. doi:10.1108/01443579910260766. Retrieved 6 November 2010  ^ Wilhelm, B. (1997). "Platform and modular concept at Volkswagen – their effect on the assembly process". In K. Shimokawa, U. Jürgens, and T. Fujimoto. Transforming Auto Assembly. Springer. pp. 146–156. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) ^ a b c d Balu, Deepak (30 June 2004). "Automotive Platform Sharing: an Overview". Frost & Sullivan. Retrieved 6 November 2010.  ^ Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc (June 1992). "Rebate time and the cars are cheaper". Kiplinger's Personal Finance. 46 (6): 98. Retrieved 6 November 2010. The most upscale Toyota
Camry, the V6 XLE, and the entry-level Lexus ES
Lexus ES
300 are clones, but the price difference between them is over $4500. For that you get a more finely finished interior on the Lexus
and the promise of better service... CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) ^ Simmons, Lee; Simmons, Barbara (1997). Penny pinching. Bantam Books. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-553-57366-4. Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry
XLE V-6 has exactly the same engine and shares many of the same body specifications with the Lexus ES
Lexus ES
300. Comparably equipped, except for minor items  ^ Edmonston, Phil (2004). Lemon Aide Guide 2005: New Cars and Minivans. Penguin Group. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-14-301637-3.  ^ Perloff, Jeffrey M. (2004). Microeconomics. Pearson Addison Wesley. p. 672. ISBN 978-0-321-16073-7. Retrieved 6 November 2010. ... are automotive twins, as are the Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry
and Lexus
ES 300.  ^ a b Csere, Csaba (June 2003). "Platform Sharing for Dummies". Car and Driver. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010.  ^ "Q&A: Richard Parry-Jones, Ford Global Product Development VP". Automobile Magazine. April 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2010.  ^ McFarlane, Greg; Kincaid, Betty (2010). Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense. Mill City Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-1-936107-88-9. Retrieved 6 November 2010. Take the Lexus ES. It boasts the sexy panache of style and elegance that no other sedan can compare to. Except the quotidian Toyota
Camry, that is. Same car. Same blueprints, same skeleton off the same assembly line in the same factory, ...  ^ "Inside Truck Platform Sharing". Motor Trend. 2008-04-22. Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-29.  ^ Kevin M. Kelly (January 1, 2009). "https://www.adandp.media/articles/ford-putting-on-the-top-hat". Automotive Design and Production.  External link in title= (help)

External links[edit]

EE Times Safe Car
Guide California government Motor Authority The Truth about Cars Motor Trend

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Automotive design

Part of a series of articles on cars



platform Backbone chassis Beltline Body-on-frame Bumper Cabrio coach Chassis Continental tire Crumple zone Dagmar bumpers Fender Fender skirts Grille Hood Hood scoop Monocoque Overhang Pillar Pontoon fenders Quarter panel Roof rack Shaker scoop Spoiler Stressed member engine Subframe Tonneau Trunk lid


Trunk/boot/dickie Hood/bonnet


Butterfly doors Gull-wing door Scissor doors Sliding door Suicide door Vehicle canopy


Greenhouse Power window Quarter glass Opera window Sunroof Windshield/windscreen Windshield/windscreen wiper

Other elements

Bumper sticker Curb feeler Front-end bra Hood ornament Japan black Nerf bar Omniview technology Run-flat tire Spare tire Tire/tyre Tow hitch Truck accessory Window deflector


Approach and departure angles Breakover angle Overhang Ride height Roll center Turning radius Weight distribution

Exterior equipment


Daytime running lamp Headlamp

sealed beam high-intensity discharge lamp

Hidden headlamps Turn signals


Rear position lamps Stop lamps Reversing lamps Safety reflector


Other elements

Vehicle horn Vehicle registration plate

vanity plate

Windshield/windscreen washer fluid Wing mirror

power side-view mirror


Motor vehicle theft Vehicle identification number

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