Automobile platform
An automobile platform is a shared set of common design, engineering, and production efforts, as well as major components over a number of outwardly distinct models and even types of automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s, often from different, but related marques. It is practiced in the automotive industry
Automotive industry
The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles, and is one of the world's most important economic sectors by revenue....

 to reduce the costs associated with the development of products by basing those products on a smaller number of platforms. This further allows companies to create distinct models from a design perspective on similar underpinnings.

Definition and benefits

Platform sharing is a product development method where different products and the brand attached share the same components . The purpose with platform sharing is to reduce the cost and have a more efficient product development process . The companies gain on reduced procurement cost by taking advantage of the commonality of the components. However, this also limits their ability to differentiate the products and imposes a risk of losing the tangible uniqueness of the product. The companies have to make a trade-off between reducing their development costs and the degree of differentiation of the products.

A basic definition of a platform in automobiles, from a technical point of view, includes: underbody and suspensions (with axles) — where the underbody is made of front floor, underfloor, engine compartment and frame (reinforcement of underbody). Therefore, key mechanical components that define an automobile platform include:
  • Floorpan
    The floorpan is a large sheet metal stamping that often incorporates several smaller welded stampings to form the floor of a large vehicle and the position of its external and structural panels....

    , the collective pieces of the large sheet metal stamping that serves as the primary foundation of the monocoque
    Monocoque is a construction technique that supports structural load by using an object's external skin, as opposed to using an internal frame or truss that is then covered with a non-load-bearing skin or coachwork...

     chassis, of most of the structural and mechanical components
  • Front and rear axles and the distance between them - wheelbase
    In both road and rail vehicles, the wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels.- Road :In automobiles, the wheelbase is the horizontal distance between the center of the front wheel and the center of the rear wheel...

  • Steering
    Steering is the term applied to the collection of components, linkages, etc. which will allow a vessel or vehicle to follow the desired course...

     mechanism and type of power steering
    Power steering
    Power steering helps drivers steer vehicles by augmenting steering effort of the steering wheel.Hydraulic or electric actuators add controlled energy to the steering mechanism, so the driver needs to provide only modest effort regardless of conditions. Power steering helps considerably when a...

  • Type of front and rear suspension
    Suspension (vehicle)
    Suspension is the term given to the system of springs, shock absorbers and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels. Suspension systems serve a dual purpose — contributing to the car's roadholding/handling and braking for good active safety and driving pleasure, and keeping vehicle occupants...

  • Placement and choice of engine
    Internal combustion engine
    The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

     and other powertrain
    In a motor vehicle, the term powertrain or powerplant refers to the group of components that generate power and deliver it to the road surface, water, or air. This includes the engine, transmission, drive shafts, differentials, and the final drive...


Vehicle platform-sharing combined with advanced and flexible-manufacturing technology enables automakers to sharply reduce product development and changeover times, while modular design and assembly allow building a greater variety of vehicles from one basic set of engineered components.
Many vendors refer to this as product or vehicle architecture. The concept of product architecture is the scheme by which the function of a product is allocated to physical components.

The use of a platform strategy provides several benefits:
  • Greater flexibility between plants (the possibility of transferring production from one plant to another due to standardization),
  • Cost reduction achieved through using resources on a global scale,
  • Increased use of plants (higher productivity due to the reduction in the number of differences), and
  • Reduction of the number of platforms as a result of their localization on a worldwide basis.

The automobile platform strategy has become important in new product development and in the innovation process. The finished products have to be responsive to market needs and to demonstrate distinctiveness while — at the same time — they must be developed and produced at low cost. Adopting such a strategy affects the development process and also has an important impact on an automaker's organizational structure. A platform strategy also offers advantages for the globalization process of automobile firms.

Because the majority of time and money by an automaker is spent on the development of platforms, platform sharing affords manufacturers the ability to cut costs on research and development by spreading the cost of the R&D
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 over several product lines. Manufacturers are then able to offer products at a lower cost to consumers. Additionally, economies of scale are increased, as is return on investment.


Originally, a "platform" was a literally shared chassis
A chassis consists of an internal framework that supports a man-made object. It is analogous to an animal's skeleton. An example of a chassis is the underpart of a motor vehicle, consisting of the frame with the wheels and machinery.- Vehicles :In the case of vehicles, the term chassis means the...

 from a previously-engineered vehicle, as in the case for the Citroën 2CV
Citroën 2CV
The Citroën 2CV |tax horsepower]]”) was an economy car produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1948 and 1990. It was technologically advanced and innovative, but with uncompromisingly utilitarian unconventional looks, and deceptively simple Bauhaus inspired bodywork, that belied the sheer...

 platform chassis used by the Citroën Ami
Citroën Ami
The Citroën Ami is a supermini produced by the French automaker Citroën from 1961 to 1978. The Ami and stablemate Citroën Dyane were replaced by the Citroën Visa and Citroën Axel . The Ami was for some years the best-selling car model in France...

 and Citroën Dyane
Citroën Dyane
The Citroën Dyane is an economy car/supermini produced by the French automaker Citroën from 1967 to 1983. Based on the Citroën 2CV, 1,444,583 examples were manufactured...

, and Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Type 1, widely known as the Volkswagen Beetle or Volkswagen Bug, is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen from 1938 until 2003...

 frame under the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is a 2+2 coupe and convertible marketed from 1955 to 1974 by Volkswagen – combining the chassis and mechanicals of the Type 1 , styling by Luigi Segre of the Italian carrozzeria Ghia, and hand-built bodywork by German coach-builder Karmann.The Karmann Ghia was...

. Platform sharing has been a common practice since the 1960s when GM
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 used the same platform in the development of the Pontiac
Pontiac was an automobile brand that was established in 1926 as a companion make for General Motors' Oakland. Quickly overtaking its parent in popularity, it supplanted the Oakland brand entirely by 1933 and, for most of its life, became a companion make for Chevrolet. Pontiac was sold in the...

 LeMans, the Buick Skylark
Buick Skylark
The Buick Skylark was a passenger car produced by the Buick division of General Motors. The model was made in six production runs. In each run, the car design varied dramatically due to changing technology and tastes, as well as new standards implemented over the years.-1953–1954:Introduced to mark...

, the Chevrolet Chevelle
Chevrolet Chevelle
The Chevrolet Chevelle is a mid-sized automobile produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors in three generations for the 1964 through 1977 model years. Part of the GM A-Body platform, the Chevelle was one of Chevrolet's most successful nameplates. Body styles include coupes, sedans,...

, and Oldsmobile Cutlass
Oldsmobile Cutlass
The Oldsmobile Cutlass is a line of automobiles made by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors. The Cutlass began as a unibody compact car, but saw its greatest success as a body-on-frame intermediate car....


In the 1980s, Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

's K-cars
Chrysler K platform
The Chrysler Corporation's K-cars were compact-to-midsize cars designed to carry six adults on two bench seats and were aimed not only to replace Chrysler's nominally-compact F-body Aspen and Volaré, but also to compete with intermediates like the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fairmont...

 all wore a badge with the letter, "K", to indicate their shared platform. In later stages, the "K" platform was extended in wheelbase, as well as use for several of the Corporation's different models.

GM used similar strategies with its "J" platform
GM J platform
The J platform, or J-body, was General Motors' inexpensive front-wheel drive automobile platform from the 1980s and 1990s. The platform replaced the GM H platform. The J-platform is the only platform of GM to have a model in each of its "Original 5" passenger car divisions...

 that debuted in mid-1981 in four of GM's divisions. Subsequent to that, GM introduced its "A" bodies for the same four divisions using the same tread width/wheelbase of the "X" body platform, but with larger body work to make the cars seem larger, and with larger trunk compartments. They were popular through the 1980s, primarily. Even Cadillac started offering a "J" body model called the Cimarron
Cadillac Cimarron
The Cadillac Cimarron was a compact car built by Cadillac based on the GM J platform. It was first introduced in 1981 for the 1982 model year, and sold through 1988. During its seven-year model run, 132,499 Cimarrons were built.-Development:...

, a much gussied up version of the other four brands' platform siblings.
A similar strategy applied to what is known as the N-J-L platform, arguably the most prolific of GM's efforts on one platform. Once more, GM's four lower level divisions all offered various models on this platform throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.

Japanese carmakers have followed the platform sharing practice with Honda
is a Japanese public multinational corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles.Honda has been the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959, as well as the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines measured by volume, producing more than...

's Acura
Acura is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Honda Motor Company. The brand has been available in the United States and Canada since March 1986, marketing luxury, performance, and near-performance vehicles. It was introduced to Hong Kong in 1991, Mexico in 2004, and China in 2006...

 line, Nissan's Infiniti
is the luxury division of automaker Nissan. Infiniti officially started selling vehicles on November 8, 1989 in North America. Marketing operations have since grown to include the Middle East, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan, China, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Infiniti began sales in additional...

 brand, and Toyota's Lexus
is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation. First introduced in 1989 in the United States, Lexus is now sold globally and has become Japan's largest-selling make of premium cars. The Lexus marque is marketed in over 70 countries and territories worldwide, and has...

 marque, as the entry-level luxury models are based on their mainstream lineup. For example, the Lexus ES
Lexus ES
The Lexus ES series is a family of mid-size luxury sedans sold by Lexus since 1989. Now in its fifth generation, the series has been consistently built on the Toyota Camry platform with a V6 engine, automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive...

 is essentially an upgraded and rebadged Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry is a series of mid-size automobiles manufactured by Toyota since 1982, and sold in the majority of automotive markets throughout the world...

. After Daimler-Benz
Daimler-Benz AG was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines; founded in 1926. An Agreement of Mutual Interest - which was valid until year 2000 - was signed on 1 May 1924 between Karl Benz's Benz & Cie., and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, which had...

 purchased Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

, Chrysler engineers used several M-B platforms for new models including the Crossfire
Chrysler Crossfire
The Chrysler Crossfire is a rear-wheel drive sports car marketed by Chrysler as both coupé and roadster and was built for Chrysler by Karmann of Germany.-Design:...

 which was based on the M-B SLK roadster
Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
The SLK is a compact roadster manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in three generations; R170 launched in 1996, the R171 in 2004 and R172 in 2011....

. Other models that share platforms are the European Ford Focus, Mazda 3
Mazda Axela
The Mazda3 is a compact car manufactured in Japan by the Mazda Motor Corporation. It was introduced for the 2004 model year, replacing the Mazda Familia...

 and the Volvo S40
Volvo S40
The Volvo S40 is a small family car produced by Volvo. It introduced the first generation S40 and V40 cars in 1995...


Differences between shared models typically involve styling, including headlights, tail lights, and front and rear fascias
Fascia (car)
Confusingly, fascia is used for several different things in the automotive world. Many of these meanings are related to the appearance of the car....

. Examples also involve differing engines
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 and drivetrains
In a motor vehicle, the term powertrain or powerplant refers to the group of components that generate power and deliver it to the road surface, water, or air. This includes the engine, transmission, drive shafts, differentials, and the final drive...

. In some cases such as the Lexus ES that is a Toyota Camry, "same car, same blueprints, same skeleton off the same assembly line in the same factory", but the Lexus is marketed with premium coffee in the dealership's
Car dealership
A car dealership or vehicle local distribution is a business that sells new or used cars at the retail level, based on a dealership contract with an automaker or its sales subsidiary. It employs automobile salespeople to do the selling...

 showroom and reduced greens fees at Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach Golf Links is a golf course located in Pebble Beach, California, on the west coast of the United States.Pebble Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world. It hugs the rugged coastline and has wide open views of Carmel Bay, opening to the Pacific Ocean,...

 as part of the higher-priced badge.

Platform sharing may be less noticeable now, however, it is still very apparent. Vehicle architectures primarily consist of "under the skin" components, and shared platforms can show up in unusual places, like the Nissan FM platform
Nissan FM platform
The Nissan FM platform is a modern FR automobile layout. The name is derived from the "front midships" location of the engine, referring to the engine's center of mass being located behind the front axle centerline, shifting weight to the middle of the car, leaving the front suspension less...

-mates Nissan 350Z
Nissan 350Z
The Nissan 350Z is a two seat sports car that was manufactured by Nissan from 2002 to 2009 and marks the fifth generation of Nissan's Z-car line. The 350Z entered production in late 2002 and was sold and marketed as a 2003 model. The first year there was only a coupe, as the roadster did not debut...

 sports car
Sports car
A sports car is a small, usually two seat, two door automobile designed for high speed driving and maneuverability....

 and Infiniti FX
Infiniti FX
The Infiniti FX is a mid-size luxury crossover SUV produced by the Nissan-owned Infiniti luxury vehicle brand since the 2003 model year. The FX replaced the QX4 as Infiniti's mid-size luxury-type SUV, although the QX4 was smaller than the FX. It was released at the same time as its competitors,...

 SUV. Volkswagen A platform
Volkswagen A platform
The Volkswagen Group A platform is an automobile platform shared among compact and mid-size cars of the Volkswagen Group.It was originally based on the engineering concept of the Volkswagen Golf Mk1, and is applicable to either front- or four-wheel drive vehicles, using only front-mounted...

-mates like the Audi TT
Audi TT
The Audi TT is a two-door sports car manufactured by the German automaker and Volkswagen Group subsidiary Audi since 1998.The Audi TT has been produced in two generations. Both generations have been available in two car body styles; as a 2+2 Coupé, or two-seater Roadster...

 and Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf is a small family car manufactured by Volkswagen since 1974 and marketed worldwide across six generations, in various body configurations and under various nameplates – as the Volkswagen Rabbit in the United States and Canada , and as the Volkswagen Caribe in Mexico .The...

 also share much of their mechanical components but seem visually entirely different. Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group is a German multinational automobile manufacturing group. , Volkswagen was ranked as the world’s third largest motor vehicle manufacturer and Europe's largest....

 and Toyota have both had much success building many well differentiated vehicles from many marques, from the same platforms. One of the least conspicuous recent examples is the Chevy Trailblazer and Chevy SSR; both use the GMT-360 platform. Opel Astra
Opel Astra
The Opel Astra is a small family car engineered and manufactured by the German automaker Opel since 1991.It is branded as Vauxhall Astra in the United Kingdom, the Buick Excelle XT in China and the Chevrolet Astra/Vectra in Latin America...

 and Chevy HHR also share a platform yet are visually entirely different.


  • Easier inventory
    Inventory means a list compiled for some formal purpose, such as the details of an estate going to probate, or the contents of a house let furnished. This remains the prime meaning in British English...

     management/smaller number of parts
Platform sharing allows for fewer parts for different models of vehicles and therefore the task of inventorying those parts is greatly reduced.
  • Lower development costs
Platform sharing allows manufacturers to cover many different market segments when a platform sharing strategy is implemented. This is exemplified by Ford Motor Co.
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

 in the case of the Ford Explorer
Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer is a sport-utility vehicle sold in North America and built by the Ford Motor Company since 1990, as a replacement for the smaller but related Ford Bronco II. It is manufactured in Chicago, Illinois...

, Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Mountaineer
Although the redesigned Explorer had already been out for two years, Mercury introduced an Explorer twin called the Mountaineer. The Mountaineer was only slightly different from the Explorer, although it did offer a few extra luxury features that the Explorer lacked, such as a standard 302 cu in ...

 and Lincoln Aviator
Lincoln Aviator
The Lincoln Aviator was a mid-size sport utility vehicle produced by the Ford Motor Company's Lincoln luxury division. It was introduced in 2002, and production ended in 2005. The Aviator was built exclusively at Ford's St. Louis Assembly plant in Hazelwood, Missouri...

. They are essentially the same only they are considered mass-market, near luxury and luxury vehicles.
  • Increased quality and innovation
Platform sharing allows manufacturers to design parts with fewer variation. A byproduct of this is increased quality, which results in lower defect rates.
  • Global standardization
Platform sharing allows manufacturers to design flexible platforms that can be tailored to a country's specific needs without compromising quality. It also allows for manufacturing standardization and improved logistics.
  • Greater product variety
Platform sharing allows manufacturers to build/design differentiated products faster and cheaper. This is possible because the development and cost of the original platform have already been paid for.


  • Badge engineering
    Badge engineering
    Badge engineering is an ironic term that describes the rebadging of one product as another...

Manufacturers that practice platform sharing have the ability to create several models based on the same design, but with different names. This leads to the public looking over certain models and cannibalized sales from competing divisions with essentially the same product. This was prevalent among U.S. domestic manufactures from the 1970s onward, e.g., the Chevrolet Trailblazer
Chevrolet TrailBlazer
The Chevrolet TrailBlazer is a mid-size sport utility vehicle produced by the Chevrolet division of American automaker General Motors.On November 10th, 2011, General Motors officially revealed a second generation of the vehicle to be sold worldwide...

, GMC Envoy
GMC Envoy
The GMC Envoy is an SUV from the GMC marque of General Motors. It was introduced as a high-end version of the Jimmy for the 1998 model year, the same year the Jimmy was restyled...

, Buick Rainier
Buick Rainier
The Buick Rainier was a mid-size SUV sold by the Buick division of General Motors. Introduced for 2004 to replace the Oldsmobile Bravada, the Rainier was the first truck sold under the Buick marque since the 1920s, and was the first body-on-frame...

, Saab 9-7X
Saab 9-7X
The Saab 9-7X was a Saab-branded mid-size sport utility vehicle based on General Motors' GMT360 platform, which also included the GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Oldsmobile Bravada, Isuzu Ascender, and Chevrolet TrailBlazer The Saab 9-7X was a Saab-branded mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) based on...

, and Isuzu Ascender
Isuzu Ascender
The Isuzu Ascender was a mid-size/full-size SUV built by General Motors for Isuzu. Introduced for the 2003 model year, the 7-passenger Ascender was a re-badged GMC Envoy. It replaced the Japanese built mid-size Isuzu Trooper. A shorter 5-passenger model was made available for the 2005 model year...

  • Incompatible changes to platforms
The two elements of platforms are constant and non-constant. If the non-constant elements are not designed to be easily integrated into the constant elements of the platform, extensive and expensive changes will have to be made in order to make the elements compatible again. Failure to do so negates the purpose of platform sharing in that it increases costs as opposed to reducing them.
  • Product dilution
Platform sharing has the ability to be used in too many different models. However, in the mind of the consumers, the products may be too similar and more expensive products may be perceived to be cheaper. For example, the perceived value of a "luxury" brand may be not as desirable if it is too similar to a mass-market version of the same platform. Conversely, platform sharing may increase the price of the economic models.
  • Risk concentration/Higher recall
    Product recall
    A product recall is a request to return to the maker a batch or an entire production run of a product, usually due to the discovery of safety issues. The recall is an effort to limit liability for corporate negligence and to improve or avoid damage to publicity...

The propensity for a higher number of recall is greatly increased with platform sharing. If a defect is found in one model and that model shares its platform with ten other models, the recall would be magnified by ten thus costing the manufacturer more time and money to fix. An example of problems spreading across platforms and numerous versions of models are the 2009–2011 Toyota vehicle recalls.

See also

External links

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