TURIN Italy- Fiat Auto S.p.A. will cut the number of car platforms it uses from seven to three by 2003.
Roberto Testore, Fiat's chief executive, said the platform consolidation is part of a plan to stay independent while raising annual output to four million vehicles. That figure should be reached in the latter part of the next decade, he said.
The move not only will save money but will spawn a series of low-cost derivatives based on the highly flexible new platforms.
'The three platforms are called small, medium and large,' said Giuseppe Perlo, vice president of product development. All are front-wheel drive.
About 1.7 million vehicles a year will be built off the small platform, which will replace the current A and B platforms. The small platform will be used for the Seicento replacement, the Palio world car, and the third-generation Punto.
FIRST SMALL CAR
The first car to use the small platform will be either the Lancia Y replacement in late 2001 or the Palio replacement in 2003.
The medium platform is planned for 900,000 units annually, replacing the existing C and D platforms. The Bravo/Brava replacements will be the first cars off the platform in 2001. Later, the next-generation Alfa 156 and Lancia Lybra will be introduced.
The large platform will be used for Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia's executive cars. The Alfa Romeo 166 replacement, expected in 2005, will use this platform. The large platform is expected to account for up to 200,000 units a year.
Fiat has not decided whether the new Croma, due in 2002, will be based on the medium or large platform.
The three platforms will eventually account for nearly three million units a year. The remaining one million units will be composed of:
More than 350,000 light commercial vehicles
The current Palio, which will continue to be built in some countries
The Ulysse and Lancia Z minivans, which will be based on a PSA platform
And specialty and joint venture vehicles such as the Multipla and Fiat/Mitsubishi sport-utility.
Perlo said the three new platforms consist only of the floorpan and fixed mechanical points such as the link to the engine and seat frame. That allows flexible wheelbase length and body width. Some changes to the suspension are also possible.
By using spaceframe technology allied to the stamped steel floorpan, Fiat will gain more flexibility and will be able to produce a greater variety of models, he said.