GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Ford Motor Co. and most Premier Automotive Group brands will have nearly interchangeable powertrains by the start of the next decade.
"It will take five or six more years before integration becomes visible," Albie van Buel, Volvo's senior vice president for purchasing, said in an interview with Automotive News Europe.
The integration already is evident. An example of the powertrain sharing between Ford and its PAG brands - Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover - is the new Volvo-designed 3.2-liter SI6 engine.
Van Buel said Volvo wants to share its engine with Ford and other PAG brands. A Ford source was more specific, saying the engine will power the next Land Rover Freelander.
The Freelander and the Volvo S80, which offers the SI6 engine, share chassis technology.
The Freelander, which is not sold in America, only now comes with a 2.0-liter common-rail diesel from former owner BMW. BMW sold Land Rover to Ford in 2000.
Until last year, Land Rover offered a 2.5-liter Jaguar gasoline engine in the Freelander.
The new-generation Freelander likely will debut this month at the British International Motor Show in London, and will go on sale this year.
The Ford source also said Jaguar could use the SI6 engine, but with the addition of a turbocharger to distinguish it from Land Rover and Volvo.
Volvo uses an inline six-cylinder gasoline powerplant in its S80 upper-premium sedan, which went on sale in Europe in June, and in the refreshed version of its XC90 SUV, arriving this summer.
The engine is produced in Bridgend, Wales, where Ford makes powerplants ranging in capacity from 1.25 liters to 4.4 liters.
Another example of PAG sharing powertrains is the 4.4- and 4.2-liter
V-8 engines made in Bridgend for Land Rover and Jaguar models.
Van Buel said it is taking longer to integrate the brands' engines because engine life cycles last longer than those of many other components.
Ford prides itself on its ability to share technologies. The carmaker believes that different brands can save money by pooling their engineering resources.
The aim has been to develop common technologies for parts of the cars that customers don't touch or feel.
Purchasing practices play a crucial role in making shared technologies work at Ford and PAG.
The automakers' purchasing departments divide into teams that focus on specific areas, such as powertrains.
The teams try to pool suppliers for multiple brands to reduce costs and boost the sharing of parts.
For instance, Volvo's SI6 engine shares many components with other engines built at the Bridgend plant. This allows Ford to build a wide range of engines in Bridgend while still letting its brands offer features that distinguish the brands from each other.
"Shared technologies are the backbone of that," van Buel said. "The principles even allow for unique premium systems or parts to be used. For Jaguar that includes aluminum bodywork."
At Ford and PAG, individual brands are assigned to do basic core engineering for a different program.
Mazda takes the lead in small cars, such as the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta. Ford owns 33.4 percent of Mazda.
Ford leads in medium-sized cars, and Volvo leads in upper-medium/medium premium segment vehicles such as the S80.
Once basic engineering is done, individual brands take over and tune their products.
The most extensive application so far was C1 Shared Technologies, which spawned the Ford Focus, Mazda3, and Volvo S40 and V50 medium-sized cars.
Core engineering took place at Ford's Merkenich Technical Center near Cologne, Germany. The brands then came up with their own vehicles based on an underlying architecture.
Now Ford is expanding the idea to the upper-medium platform, including the Ford S-Max and Galaxy and the Volvo S80.
By making the building blocks interchangeable, Ford and its brands are able to create a variety of very different models using many similar components.
You may e-mail Wim Oude Weernink at [email protected]