BMW and Mercedes-Benz are reducing their number of vehicle architectures to speed development and cut costs.
BMW and Mini will use only two architectures -- one for front-wheel drive and another for rear-wheel drive -- said Herbert Diess, board member for r&d. Today, the two brands use five.
The BMW i3 electric and i8 plug-in hybrid are not part of the architecture consolidation.
Mercedes-Benz vehicles will use four architectures, down from nine five years ago, said Thomas Weber, head of worldwide r&d. Common architectures, also called platforms, allow vehicles to share parts and assembly equipment.
The savings from consolidation "are huge," said Weber, declining to provide details. Quality also will improve and the time to market for new and redesigned models will be significantly reduced, he said.
"You will see how many vehicles we can now bring to market. It would not be possible without this approach," Weber said.
According to Diess, the new BMW Group architectures are the only affordable way to expand the Mini and BMW ranges. "We could not have such a product portfolio if we had not established architectures for our front-wheel Mini and smaller BMWs and the rear-wheel-drive architecture," he said.
BMW's new fwd architecture debuted with the redesigned Mini. The second vehicle to use it is the BMW 2-series Active Tourer that was unveiled last week at the Geneva auto show. It goes on sale in Europe in October.