In our daily coverage of General Motors news, rumors, and reviews, we tend to often mention such words as “platform” and “architecture”. But it wasn’t until a letter asking us about what a platform is, that we realized that some may not be as familiar with the subject as they’d like to be. So, what is a platform?
Simply put, a platform is a set of fix hard points to which a vehicle is assembled. It’s a series of concrete dimensions in space. These dimensions are often what define a vehicle’s design, behavior and driving characteristics such as handling.
As such, platform sharing, in and of itself, does not necessarily imply parts sharing, as vehicles utilizing the same platform can use completely different parts. However, in most cases, sharing a platform is performed in hopes of cutting costs in engineering another platform or developing and procuring another set of parts, so part sharing is often part-and-parcel of platform sharing.
That said, new parts can be engineered to match the hard points of an existing platform. In such a scenario, the only thing being “handed down” is the set of dimensions where the new parts will be attached.
Some platforms are engineered to be modular — meaning their dimensions, and thus the points in space, can be easily changed. This is the case with GM’s global Epsilon II platform, for instance, which supports short-, medium, and extra-long-wheelbase setups in the Regal/Insignia, LaCrosse, and XTS, respectively.
Feel free to share whatever knowledge of automotive architectures you may have in the comments below.