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Mercedes-Benz and BMW to drastically reduce platforms

All future Benzes will be built atop four basic platforms while BMWs will be built on just two.

German automakers will soon drastically reduce the number of platforms underpinning their cars in order to shorten development time and reduce costs. Mercedes-Benz will whittle their vehicle architectures to four variants, while BMW will cut theirs down to just two.

The future of Mercedes-Benz

Nine years ago, Mercedes-Benz had nine different platforms. Today they employ five, and soon that number will be down to the following four.

MFA for all front-wheel-drive vehicles — CLA, B-Class Electric Drive and GLA crossover.

MRA for rear-wheel-drive vehicles — The new C-Class, E-Class and GLK SUV. The S-Class sedan and coupe will use some MRA components as well.

MHA for large, rear- and all-wheel-drive crossovers — ML, GL, and a two-door based on the ML coming in 2015.

MSA for sports cars — SLK and SL.

According to head of worldwide R&D Thomas Weber, the savings "are huge” and will actually increase the number of variations they can bring to market.

BMW's dual-platform plan

BMW currently builds its cars atop five different platforms, but board member for R&D Herbert Diess says that will soon be cut down to just two: One for front-wheel-drive cars like the Mini lineup and one for all remaining rear-wheel-drive cars.

The first car to utilize the FWD platform was the new Mini, followed by the recently unveiled 2-Series Active Tourer. In two years' time, the RWD platform will debut with the next-generation 7-Series.

Diess says, however, that Rolls Royces and BMW i3 and i8 platforms are not included as part of this pare-down.

Photo by Ronan Glon.

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