The drive to simplify product lines at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. may result in a modest downsizing of both manufacturers’ full-sized sedans as they move these vehicles to global platforms.
Ford is just now launching a redesigned version of its Taurus flagship, but the Dearborn automaker is already thinking about moving it to a smaller platform at the end of the current product cycle, according to sources familiar with the company’s plan.
The plan is to replace three different platforms that currently provide the foundation with most of Ford’s mid- and full-sized vehicles worldwide with a single mid-sized platform that could be modified to accommodate larger vehicles.
The new platform would be an evolution of the European C/D-class platform that currently underpins several European mid-sized products, such as the Ford Mondeo and Galaxy. North American products like the Ford Fusion and Edge, which are currently built on the CD3 architecture, would move to this new platform, but so would larger vehicles like the Taurus, which is currently manufactured on the D3 platform.
The future Taurus would still be longer than the Fusion, but slightly shorter than the 2010 model currently being launched. Similar changes would likely be made to the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, which are also based on a modified D3 platform; although, the aim would be to deliver the same interior room offered by the current models.
Ford would neither confirm nor deny moves, and sources stressed that a final decision had not yet been made.
In any event, these moves would not take place for several years. Ford still plans to introduce an all-new Ford Explorer built off the D3 platform next year. Its product plan also calls for a freshening of the Taurus about two years from now that will involve changes to the sheet metal, but not the underlying platform.
GM is weighing a similar strategy that could put the Chevrolet Impala on the same platform as the Malibu, according to people familiar with that company’s plans.
It is considering moving the full-sized Impala to its planned Epsilon II platform, which is expected to provide the foundation for the next generation Malibu as well.
GM would neither confirm nor deny these reports.
Analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics LLP, who has advised both companies on their product strategies, says such moves could prove real cost-savers. Fewer platforms mean lower design costs and also would allow automakers to share more common components among different types of vehicles.
“You are only doing the engineering one time,” Hall said. “The economies of scale you realize from doing it are significant.”