The new Audi A3, scheduled to launch in 2012, will mark the first of more than 40 models from the VW Group that will use standardized components such as axles, steering columns and chassis.
VW estimates it will lower costs by €5 billion a year by sharing parts across brands such as VW, Skoda and Seat. However, the move will also increase risks of massive recalls, as a potentially faulty part will be present on a much larger scale of models.
“If something goes wrong, then one may get hit by an epidemic plague. The more connected the structures, the higher the threat of contagion,” Christoph Stuermer, an analyst with IHS Automotive, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. The new technology, which will be used in 3.5 million cars a year, will help VW become the world’s biggest and most profitable automaker by 2018. The manufacturer expects it will lower production costs 20 percent and cut assembly times 30 percent.
The technology will be used on VW models ranging from the Polo to the Passat and will also allow VW to produce cars from different brands at the same plant. According to the company, standardized components will save VW money by building cars simpler and faster. „We’re creating a system that enables us to produce vehicles based on this architecture at any factory,” said Ulrich Hackenberg, VW’s development chief.