FRANKFURT -- When Audi unveils its new A3 at next month's Geneva auto show it will be the first vehicle to use parent Volkswagen Group's new Modular Transverse Toolkit. VW plans to use the modular platform to underpin 6 million vehicles across 40 different models within the Audi, VW, Skoda and Seat brands by 2018.
VW says the new platform, which is abbreviated to MQB (short for Modularer Querbaukasten in German), will help it cut costs by 20 percent and reduce assembly hours by 30 percent per unit. The MQB architecture also will allow the automaker to boost output, increase profit margins and allow it increased production flexibility when building different models and even different brands on the same assembly line, VW said.
The second model to use the MQB will be the seventh-generation Golf, which will be unveiled at the Paris auto show in September. The modularity of the platform will let VW produce everything from the VW Polo subcompact to the VW Tiguan compact SUV.
Flexibility of new platforms
Carmakers have been utilizing platform sharing for decades, but in the past it meant using the same chassis, leading to very similar cars that shared the same wheelbase and suspension setup. As platforms have become more flexible and the use of different large modules has become more common, automakers are now able to produce cars with dramatically different shapes and sizes at the same plant, that are all virtually identical under the skin.
At the heart of VW's MQB platform is the uniform engine-mounting position that allows the automaker to integrate a range of 60-hp to 150-hp gasoline engines and 90-hp to 190-hp diesel units. The engine-mounting position also will allow the use of current alternative drivetrains such as natural gas, hybrid and battery driven, VW said in a statement this week.
The other modular platforms that VW Group uses are Audi's Modular Longitudinal System (MLB), Porsche's Modular Standard System (MSB) and a minicar platform developed for the automaker's so-called "New Small Family," which is used for the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo models and will be rolled out in the next few years on other vehicles including a minivan and coupe.