In what industry pundits call a bold move, General Motors has announced that they will be reducing the number of vehicle platforms as well as extending the life cycles of their vehicle architectures. GM said it will begin implementing its new plan with the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.
With this move, GM aims to streamline its costs as the company is set to undergo its “most extensive overhaul of its vehicle development process in decades” according to GM executives. Rather than making platforms that cater to specific markets, GM will be making fewer vehicle architectures designed to be and more suitable for the world market. From those building blocks, GM says it will spread the research and development costs throughout the company.
Top brass from GM also mentioned that each new platform will have a long production cycle. The company plans to keep each platform in production for “at least a decade” with new panels and technologies to be added during the vehicle's model years. Industry analysts however say that the move poses a lot of risk, as the company might end up with outdated models by the time the competition is two generations ahead. Conversely, other manufacturers are also taking the shared platform route.
At the moment, GM has six platforms for passenger cars and three platforms for their pickups, SUVs and crossovers. For cars, these consist of the Gamma for subcompacts, Delta for compacts, Epsilon for midsize, Zeta for full-size while the Alpha platform is exclusive to Cadillac and Chevrolet Camaro. The Chevrolet Corvette also sits on a bespoke platform called the U-Body. Pickup, SUV and crossover platforms include the GMT 355, GMT K2XX and Lambda.
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is the first car to adapt to this new program. It sits on the the new Delta platform which also underpins the all-new Opel Astra, Chevrolet Volt, Buick Verano and Envision. GM has also replaced the Theta chassis GM used for its crossovers for a modified Delta platform.