General Motors is streamlining its operations. Already four brands lighter since its recent bankruptcy proceedings, the carmaker has confirmed it will cut its global platforms by half over the next seven years.
Including those developed in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, GM currently has 30 platforms in its arsenal. By 2018, the American carmaker plans to have no more than 14 vehicle architectures across its six brands.
“More of our components will be common, and more of our vehicles will be on global architectures,” GM CEO Dan Akerson said during the company's 2011 Global Business Conference this week.
The company will increase the number of vehicles built on its core platforms - each developed from the outset to be easily adapted to different segments - growing from 31 percent in 2010 to 90 percent by 2018.
According to Mary Barra, GM's boss of global product development, focusing on a smaller number of multi-purpose platforms will allow GM brands to achieve a more efficient engineering investment in each vehicle. "It also delivers higher quality, faster to market," Barra said.
Engine platforms will also be halved, from 20 in 2009 to just 10 in 2018. Those core platforms will be developed for a number of capacities - including a new small petrol architecture, ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 litre capacities, will replace three existing engine platforms across the company's global brands.
GM expects the overhauled approach to development and production will save the company around $1 billion, each year, in what it calls 'churn' - cancelled, changed or relocated projects.
"We've been on this roller-coaster ride in product portfolio investment," Barra said.
"We've lost about a billion dollars a year when it comes to 'churn.' It's a horrible way to run the global product development business."
Akerson added that there was "a lot of waste" with on-again off-again projects, but that the new direction promises a bright future for the carmaker.