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Old 12th February 2008, 07:36   #1
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Default How far can they push a common platform approach?

With the push towards manufacturing efficiency, cost control, time to market, inventory control there is a greater push by auto manufacturers towards common platforms. One example is the A5 platform being shared across Audi, VW and Skoda. All this is fine if it is restricted to powertrain, chassis, engines etc. But now you have examples of manufacturers taking it to features that are visible to the user - dash boards, instrument panels etc. Examples - The GV and the SX4, the Fabia and the Laura Ambient (could also be the low end Octavia's as well). People then start thinking that my car interiors share and look similar to vehicles that cost 5-10L cheaper and that certainly affects brand equity - especially for the top end models. Do you see this trend continuing, or will the reaction of customers (not buying enough could force them more towards the wrong direction of more reuse) and spiral into a catch 22 situation. Let the debate begin..
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Old 12th February 2008, 08:45   #2
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What about indian company like tata. We thought indica, indigo, marina are the possible iterations. Did we ever expect XL, CS! i did not atleast. Coming to the build quality its still the same across all the models and variants! CS is a slight exception though here. On the other hand tata is in a good position to bring out VFM products. Also tata is about to provide ABS across all the models at reasonable price, may be owing to the reason it uses same platform across all its models. And god only knows what else we are going to get from them. I think a coupe, an AWD, a crossover are yet to come.

P.S. can anyone count the number of variants and models of tata based on indica platform. Zappo? tsk?

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Old 12th February 2008, 10:25   #3
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Its nice to see different variants and models on the same platform as it gives lot of flexibility and buying options for the customers. I think TATA is doing a great job by creating a new segment of vehicles
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Old 12th February 2008, 11:08   #4
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its a common practice nowadays with all manufacturers and this is mainly due to reduction in a model year considerably.but one thing which could have been incorporated was different interior treatment for different models on the same platform.more costly one should and deserve to have more upmarket interiors.
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Old 12th February 2008, 11:30   #5
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Platform sharing is inevitable, especially when manufacturers have to increase their presence in low volume markets or with low volume products. This is really not a problem when customers don't have a clue.

However, as you have rightly pointed out, parts-sharing is the delicate area, since this becomes all too evident to the customer. So many owners have expressed dissent over Swift / SX4 parts in the Grand Vitara and even Octavia control stalks in the Audi's. A 14 lakh soft roader surely deserves better quality parts than a 5 lakh sedan.
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Old 12th February 2008, 11:31   #6
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zen estilo/Wagon R was pretty lame though. I would have rather a new WR based on the Zen platform than the other way round :(
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Old 12th February 2008, 12:06   #7
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There is no other option than sharing a common platform where manufacturers are bound to deliver cars at very low costs. Also they have to deliver variety of models. The dies and presses , jigs and fixtures used in manufacturing are very costly. Even the assembly line setup costs a ton.
For every new model they cannot setup a new line or a press shop.Cosmetic changes to some extent are very much possible.
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Old 12th February 2008, 12:14   #8
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parts sharing across segments seems to be benefitting the customer also...
to look at the example taken in this thread - swift, sx4 and GV...isnt the parts sharing making these cars more VFM than the competition ?
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Old 12th February 2008, 12:16   #9
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off topic may be,Sounds interesting reminds of this automobile shop guy in the mid 90's who went like,"haan sir, yeh nayi model ka bush hain 62 model ki gadi o bhi perfect aata, no tension"
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Old 12th February 2008, 13:09   #10
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Perhaps since the first automobiles were seen on the roads in the late 19th century, the industry has had to continuously balance the conflicting requirements for economies of scale (and hence standardised output), and growing market demand for product diversity. Further, with growth being driven by newer markets with different tastes (notably China and India), the challenge is that attempts to achieve standardisation (such as platforms, modules, and world cars) have been thwarted by market demands for difference and customisation. These pressures for diversity are only increasing.

While the demand for customisation is growing imposing higher costs, at the same time, many major players are in a financial crisis affecting their ability to invest.

In response to more customisation, there is a general reduction in the capacity of a single assembly plant considered viable for profitable production. This is accompanied by shorter production runs more sharply targeted to market niches, and introduction of more flexible production systems and platform strategies. In addition, there has been closure of much older capacity in Japan, US, and Europe with some improvement in capacity utilisation.

The mass production system worked well when markets demanded basic automobility and were prepared to accept limited variety. However as car buyers have begun to demand greater model variety, per model volumes have been falling and economies of scale are being eroded. In Europe it is now estimated that some 60-70% of models offered in the market are essentially unprofitable, and cross subsidised by the remaining models that are made in sufficient volume or can attract a sufficient margin. However, this does allow manufacturers to offer a full model range and thus for their dealers to sell an attractive range of products.

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Old 12th February 2008, 13:15   #11
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Recently, the IEA noted that the platform concept was based on the vehicle body structure that in turn defined the dimensions and positioning of most of the major components. In practice, the extent to which two different models actually shared components seemed to range widely: from 99.9% (only the badge being changed) to the approximately 25% that the Audi TT shared with the VW Golf IV.

`Architecture' concepts are a more subtle and analytical attempt to achieve the same compromise. The essence of the architecture approach is to treat the vehicle as a three dimensional jigsaw nodes joined by lines of varying lengths. Different combinations of nodes and lines yield different shapes. This means that the automotive industry can achieve those annual 20000-100000 volumes in a profitable manner.

The idea is that in all cars the architecture can be resolved to four areas of the structure just inside the wheel-arches. Design for the vehicle starts at these corners, and it is here that all the complexity is concentrated. If accommodated at this stage, it is possible to define a large range of vehicle body configurations and engine layouts from the key corner modules: and because the complexity is concentrated at the corners, so is the cost. The corner modules are common to all vehicles derived from the architecture, and so the per unit costs of each module is as low as possible. The incremental cost of the rest of the architecture, differentiated for each model variant, is relatively low because these elements have been greatly simplified. This approach is expected to dominate car body design over the next ten years, as it combines relative flexibility with lower cost.
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Old 12th February 2008, 14:20   #12
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Default This trend will go on.

This trend will go on. Its because of this trend that the cars have become more affordable( developed markets).
the interior design change, though not that easy, can be done at relatively very low cost as compared to developing a new platform.

Here the Alto, Zen Estilo, Wagon R are based on the same platform.
The present Tata indica platform can go for the ARIA coupe as well as Indiva.

The most exciting entry from toyota in US is Toyota Venza i.e. a crossover based on Camry with 2.7 188hp and camry 3.5 V6.
This way toyota can easily price the car lower and the cost of common parts will also go down.

Accord platform is the one on which the crv is based. So in developed markets they really benifit from this trend.

In india Maruti with Zen Estilo, Alto and Wagon R plus Swift, SX4 platforms really have made great products. Tata is very obvious.

Note: SX4 platform is a streched Swift platform. Splash is based on present swift platform.
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