[YesAuto Technology] MQB, MLB, MMB, UKL, MFA, MRA, CMF, TNGA,… It seems that more and more automotive modular platform names have appeared. Is the concept of platform a “random” thing for us, or is it just a seemingly high-level conversation when we chat? In fact, the platform is not a very cold concept. Every car manufacturer has its own car platform. The platform is like a couple, and the cars produced are like their children, so if you understand the platform, you will know the real life experience of the car. Let's talk about what is an automotive platform and what is modularity.

■ Misunderstanding of the platform concept

Regarding what a platform is, some people say that a platform is a production line, and cars with the same platform come from the same production line. Some people say that the platform is the chassis. Models on the same platform have the same chassis, and the difference is only the body shape. In fact, these statements are not accurate. Models of the same platform may use different chassis, such as Audi's A4 and Q5. Models of the same platform do not necessarily come from the same production line.

■ What is platform and modularity?

Maybe after reading the above description, you still don't know what platform is and what is modularity. So let's take a popular example, comparing the production of cars to cooking.

Platform is not a new technology. Every car company has its own platform, but there is a difference in platform technology. With the continuous improvement of automotive technology and craftsmanship, platform technology is also constantly evolving.

The initial production method of automobiles was a single piece of pure hand-made. Later, there was an assembly line method that could be mass-produced, and later there was an automobile platform that could produce different models. With the development of automotive platform technology and the emergence of the modular platform concept, manufacturers can produce models of different levels, types and even different brands on one platform. The advancement of automotive platform technology has enabled automakers to continue to strengthen their vehicle manufacturing capabilities, and their vehicle manufacturing costs have also become lower.

☆ Development and cases of platform technology

In the early 1920s, in order to meet the increasing demand for automobiles, Ford developed an automobile production line. More and more Ford models are being produced, making cars begin to enter the sight of ordinary people.

Although the production method of the assembly line has greatly improved the efficiency of automobile production and solved the demand for the number of cars in the market, the single model produced on the assembly line is increasingly unable to meet consumers' demands for diversified automobiles. Therefore, the automobile platform came into being. It can produce models of different appearances on one platform by sharing core technologies such as engine technology and chassis technology.

☆ The case of “If there are more children, it is easy to fight”

As the saying goes, “it’s easy to fight with more kids.” As the auto market becomes more and more fierce, in order to enhance their competitiveness, manufacturers have developed more and more model platforms to develop models of different levels and functions.

☆ “Less is more” platform is not the more the better

Slowly, automakers began to realize that developing more platforms means more investment and greater risks. Increasing the number of platforms is not as good as making a fuss about the “width” of a platform, to further improve the versatility of parts and the compatibility of the platform, so that the various system assemblies of the car can be freely combined to develop different levels and types of models. It is a modular platform.

In 2014, Toyota announced the launch of the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform. Under the TNGA architecture strategy, models on the same platform will use a large number of common components; initially, the common proportion of components is 20% to 30%. Will reach 70% to 80%.

Raj Nair, vice president of global product development for the Ford Group, once said that Ford's platforms will continue to be merged. In 2007, Ford had a total of 27 model development platforms. In 2012, it reduced the number of platforms to 11, and plans to reduce the number of platforms to 8.

Manufacturers have reduced the number of platforms, further increased the common rate of parts, and strived to produce more models with a smaller number and types of parts, so as to reduce model development costs, shorten the development cycle, and to a certain extent. Avoid vehicle development risks.

☆ A platform jointly developed by various brands

With the mergers and acquisitions and in-depth cooperation strategies of various auto brands, the auto platform has become more open. Many examples of vendors cooperating to develop platforms are not uncommon. In 2002, GM and Fiat jointly developed the Gamma, a front-drive small car platform, which Fiat called the SCCS (Small Common Components and Systems) platform.

In addition to the above-mentioned models from different brands on the same platform, there are some cooperation cases that are more thorough. The models developed by some manufacturers are almost the same. The difference may only lie in the difference of the car logo, which is the so-called “standard car.”

The core of platform technology innovation and progress lies in the continuous improvement of the common rate of parts and components. If you summarize the changes in the automotive platform, from the production of a single model to the production of different models, to the production of models of different brands and different brands, it is more like ” A development process of “point-line-surface”.

■ Introduction to each platform

At present, in addition to the four modular platforms of Volkswagen Group, MQB, MLB, MMB and MSB, other manufacturers also have their own platform development technologies, such as Mercedes-Benz’s MFA and MRA platforms, BMW’s UKL platform, PSA Peugeot Citroen’s EMP2 platform, Renault-Nissan's CMF platform, Toyota's TNGA platform, etc., more and more platforms with modular production capabilities have been born. Below we briefly introduce a few of them.

■ Advantages and disadvantages of modular platform for manufacturers

■ Summary:

The platform is like a couple, and the cars produced are like their children. Although these children may have different heights, looks, personalities, or jobs in the future, they must have some of the same genes. So if you understand the platform, you know the mystery of the car's life experience.

The concept of platform and modularity may not be as important to our ordinary consumers as it is to manufacturers. We only need high-quality and low-cost products. Our consumers don’t care about how cars are developed and produced. We only hope to follow With the continuous improvement of automotive platform technology, the price of cars is constantly decreasing, or manufacturers use the reduced costs to add more configurations, so that under the influence of the megatrend, we can afford the Dream Car in our hearts! (Photo/Text Car Home Xia Zhimeng)