WOLFSBURG -- Volkswagen group is planning a major change in the way it will engineer cars in the future.
The move is part of a plan to cut development costs, double its global sales and eventually catch Toyota.
The German carmaker is developing four new architectures that it will make available to all VW group brands.
The largest of these will be VWs new transverse-engine architecture (MQB) for small-, lower-medium and upper-medium models. It could underpin up to six million cars, making it the industrys biggest platform.
The new approach will help VW to build cars faster, cut development times by up to a year and reduce costs by 25 percent to 40 percent.
That will help VWs ambitious drive to boost group sales to 10 million by 2018 from 5.7 million in 2006 and challenge Toyota for global leadership.
Ulrich Hackenberg, VW brand board member for development, is completing development of the MQB architecture.
MQB is planned for a broad application, from small cars up to and including upper-medium, Hackenberg told Automotive News Europe in an interview here. The first model to emerge can be expected in 2010.
Hackenberg did not specify how many models would be based on the MQB architecture. But other company sources say VW sees MQB as the logical base for replacements of at least 20 small, lower-medium and upper-medium models, plus additional new niche models.
Current models include VWs Fox, Polo, Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Touran, Caddy, Eos and Passat; Audis A3 and TT; Skodas Fabia, Roomster, Octavia and Superb; and Seats Ibiza, Cordoba, Leon, Altea and Toledo.
A VW source said the next Touran, due in 2010, may be based on MQB.
Automakers use the term architecture to define a set of common components, a common manufacturing process and common connecting points for key component systems.
Using modular architectures should allow for a 40 percent increase in production efficiency and more invisible component sharing across VWs model range. But VW MQB would be the first to cover three segments with one architecture.