General Motors is in a three-way race with Volkswagen and Toyota to be the world’s largest automaker, and it’s taking cues from its competitors in a bid to save billions. Reuters reports that by 2025, GM wants to pare down the number of vehicle platforms used globally from 26 down to just four.
This move will cut down on the complexity of GM’s massive parts supply chain as well as simplify the complexity of engineering new vehicles. While GM will only have four platforms to pull from under this plan, these platforms will come with a huge amount of flexibility to serve the needs of specific markets. This will make engineering new cars a lot simpler and much much cheaper.
It’s the same gameplay Toyota and Volkswagen are also following, and while the cost savings are huge, the plan isn’t without its risks. GM has issued recalls for some 30 million vehicles this year alone, and further unifying platforms means that one problem could potentially affect a huge number of vehicles. It also requires an initial investment that is intimidating to say the least, and neither of its two main competitors have implemented their platform-sharing plan without trouble.
GM wants to base its cars around four basic “vehicle sets” that broadly cover every category. There will be a front-drive platform, a rear-drive platform, one for crossovers, and one from trucks. This will cover all four brands and all six continents that GM sells cars on. It’s a bold and ambitious plan, though carrying it out will be more difficult than planning it. Every level of the manufacturing process needs to be included, and there’s the chance that GM loses the flexibility to respond to market demands.
Do the benefits outweigh the risk? GM is betting that’s the case, and fewer platforms is almost certainly the way to go. But can you really boil down the world’s largest automaker to a handful of platforms?