DETROIT - Fiat Auto has started to use the platform team approach for major components.
The new system opens opportunities for new suppliers to become more involved in Fiat product development, said Alberto Negro, vice-president for Fiat R&D in North America, in a speech to an industry group here.
Most of Fiat's platform teams are dedicated to cars, light commercial vehicles and low emission vehicles.
However, Fiat also uses the team approach for accessories and industrial processes.
The component platform team gives Fiat 'scope to plan the development of components on a 10-year horizon,' said Negro.
Fiat has adopted the new management organization to accelerate new model development processes and at the same time make it easier to introduce new technologies.
The platform group will do more than develop a range of components that might be useful for the car platforms.
'We want to make sure that we can offer a concept to the platforms that is already mature,' said Negro.
The component platform group will have authority on its own to spend money for component development and accept delivery from suppliers. The group is responsible for 'developing an ability to produce the component as well,' said Negro.
Fiat plans 'to reduce the cost of components by 20 percent and improve quality,' said Negro. 'We want to reduce warranty costs by 40 percent.'
In general, Fiat aims to develop new cars in 28 months from design freeze to start of production, according to a spokesman.
Fiat insiders talk of a 24-month target.
Fiat already has one of the fastest development processes in the European industry. It took 28 months to develop the Marea from design freeze to start of production, and the Lancia Ypsilon took 24 months.
The company's previous best time for a mostly new car had been 32 months for the Bravo/Brava.
The European average is 30 months, although the Ford Ka and Audi's A3 and A6 were prepared in 24 months.