WOLFSBURG, Germany -- Volkswagen has devised a new product development system that can produce hundreds of variations from the same basic chassis.
VW has been developing the system since 2007 and is implementing it with the seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf, which was launched in Europe this year.
If all goes well, the system will help VW save money and maintain distinct identities for its brands. VW's recent acquisition of Porsche gives the company 12 brands, including trucks, commercial vehicles and motorcycles.
General Motors, before its 2009 bankruptcy, was hobbled by too many brands and overlapping models that were similar in appearance and performance. GM shed four brands in its reorganization.
VW officials recently briefed reporters here at their headquarters on the product development system, which involves much more than just changing fascias, logos and horsepower ratings. It covers such core items as manufacturing and vehicle content.