General Motors currently uses 26 global vehicle platforms around the world, but wants to pare them down to just four, the automaker announced on Wednesday. The move would “simplify the engineering and manufacturing of GM’s future cars and trucks, while enabling the company to deliver better-differentiated designs more quickly to customers around the world,” according to an Automotive News report.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for more than a couple years,” GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve done extensive benchmarking [and] there’s been tremendous progress made already.”
Her 2025 strategy sees four highly flexible modular platforms that will respectively cover front-wheel drive vehicles, rear-wheel-drive vehicles, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. The strategy will save engineering, purchasing, and tooling costs, while allowing GM to tailor models to regional markets and specific sectors.
While the 10-year plan appears complex, GM may not have a choice. Says Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas, “You have to do it just to survive.” In comparison, cross-town rival Ford Motor Company expects to be using just nine platforms by the end of 2025.
And it isn’t without risk either, as Volkswagen’s MQB “modular toolkit” has had technical and labor issues that have made its planned goals and reality two different things. Plus, some are skeptical that GM has the ability to implement such a massive plan, with one former GM executive saying, “You are not going to get from a large rear-wheel-drive Cadillac to a Volt, crossovers, large SUVs and full-size pickups with four architectures/platforms/component groups, call them what you will.”