So says Jack Bakaj, the head of engineering at Ford Europe. He is talking about a new architecture that the company will use for some of its smaller models. Earlier this year, Ford announced that it would stop production of most of its car models in the US and would concentrate on SUVs and trucks with factories in other countries producing the models that would be imported in to the US. That plan of course was developed prior to the Trump Administration getting into a trade war with China and a trade discussion with Europe that seems to be calming down.
Ford has been very open about their need to save $4B in engineering costs over a five year period. To achieve that, they have got access to a Volkswagen architecture called MQB which has been in production with the German company for the last seven years. 40% of all Volkswagen’s use this architecture as well as Audi, Skoda and SEAT – the brands most closely related to Volkswagen in the group.
MQB is a front wheel drive, transverse engined and modular unibody architecture which provides designers with a toolkit of modules to ensure that sections of each design can share the same components. That means that in the assembly process, whole sections can be built for a variety of different vehicles, saving some costs across the design and assembly processes.
Ford tried a similar path with their C1 platform that underpins the current Focus, Escape and Transit Connect models. With C1, Ford managed to mix and match parts such that a production line couldn’t switch vehicles quickly and wasn’t scalable. Volkswagen had gone down a similar path with MQB and found costs were rising until they redesigned the architecture to be more scalable.
Ford now hopes to take that architecture and re-use it on the next generation Focus to be built in China as well as many other models. That would mean that the company could tool up many factories with the same modules and make it easier to move production where it is the most cost effective – and could counter tariffs from a rogue Government!
Ford has been sharing models and other technologies with Volkswagen for many years, so this shared architecture should help both groups save money. Why is it a “holy grail”? Bakaj was quoted as saying “We’ve reduced the number of parts we’ve engineered, we’ve reduced the cost of engineering, but we’ve offered more derivatives to suit different personalities, and that’s the holy grail.”
There you go, Ford see this as a shell of happiness (more sales), creating eternal youth (younger buyers) and providing an abundance of sustenance (revenue)!