Monday, February 11, 2013

MQB - Volkswagen's Latest Innovation Is No Hack

Ulrich Hackenberg, an automobile engineer at Volkswagen, has quite possibly designed the greatest innovation in automobile industry: A "global car" with "the same basic design that can be built, in subtle variations, and sold in different markets."

MQB Innovation - VW Golf Chasis

Volkswagen's work on its largest mega-platform, known internally as MQB, began in earnest in 2007 and is being implemented over the next six years at a cost of nearly $70 billion, estimates Morgan Stanley.

What is MQB?

It's the largest mega platform, "a fundamental rethink of vehicle platforms, the industrial Lego from which cars are designed and made."

"VW has just begun to implement its sophisticated and highly flexible platform with the deceptively simple label MQB, a German acronym for "modular transverse matrix." Virtually all of the group's small and medium front-wheel-drive family models, including the latest generations of the VW Golf and Audi A3, are being designed around MQB as their base.

The new platform features a far greater degree of plug-and-play modularity, flexibility and parts commonality than at Toyota, General Motors Co, Ford and other competitors."

Why MQB?

1. Cost Savings. Amazing operational efficiencies. Industry-leading levels of commonality.  Projected annual gross savings by 2019: $19 billion

2. Game changer. MQB "could be the single most important automotive initiative of the past 25 years," says Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Consulting in Northville, Michigan.

3. Leverage. VM may boost global sales to 10 million or more, with 6.3 million built on some variation of the MQB platform, according to U.S. research firm IHS Automotive.

4. Modularity. Design, engineer and build a wide variety of vehicle size and shapes - from a subcompact Polo hatchback to a full-size, seven-passenger crossover.

5. Flexibility. Create more cars that are more tailored for specific markets at a lower cost.

"The sense from competitors and auto analysts is that VW's rollout of MQB is likely to be as influential as such earlier innovations as Ford's adaptation of standardized parts, GM's "ladder" of brands and Toyota's streamlined production system." Has VW hit the jackpot? Would it surpass Toyota as the world's largest automaker?

Is MQB the Holy Grail of Auto Innovation?

Read the entire article here

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