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GM to slash global vehicle platforms by more than half, to 14, by 2018

Tue, 09 Aug 2011

General Motors says it will cut the number of vehicle platforms it uses globally by more than half over the next decade, in a bid to reduce complexity and save on product-development costs.

“More of our components will be common, and more of our vehicles will be on global architectures,” GM CEO Dan Akerson told analysts on Tuesday.

His remarks came as GM kicked off a series of presentations online, billed as its 2011 Global Business Conference.

As part of the conference, slides prepared for a presentation by Mary Barra, GM's senior vice president of global product development, showed that the automaker will reduce the number of vehicle architectures, or the platform of parts and subcomponents that underpin various cars and trucks, from 30 in 2010 to 14 in 2018.

More on ‘core' platforms

GM also said it will vastly increase the number of cars and trucks that will be assembled on its “core” architectures, which GM defines as global platforms as well as high-volume regional platforms such as the T900 architecture used for its full-sized pickups. Core platforms will account for 90 percent of GM's volume by 2018, up from 31 percent in 2010.

The company also aims to cut its engine platforms, from nearly 20 in 2009 to fewer than a dozen in 2018 and around 10 eventually.

The consolidation is aimed at eliminating inefficiencies in GM's product-development system.

With a more efficient product-development process, GM hopes to reduce costly development snags, which GM calls “churn.” The term covers canceled programs, late changes to vehicles nearing production, and reassigning a vehicle program from one of GM's lead engineering centers around the world to another.

Such churn costs GM up to $1 billion annually, according to slides GM prepared for its presentation to analysts as part of its annual investor conference.

GM has a “huge opportunity” to “bring discipline within the vehicle programs, control churn, control change,” GM CFO Dan Amman said. “That will enable us to work better with the supply base.”

Improve quality

Fewer vehicle architectures should allow GM to get new products to market more quickly and improve quality by standardizing “best practices” across its development facilities, Barra said in her presentation.

It also will drive down engineering and materials costs, GM said, while allowing GM to share the cost of tooling across platforms, which would also cut capital costs.

By Mike Colias- Automotive News