The Volkswagen Group is planning a new model blitz over the next two years, with 50 new and revised vehicles arriving by the end of 2015.
One of the most important models will be the all-new Audi A4, which VW Group boss Dr Martin Winterkorn revealed will arrive in the "last three months" of 2015. A facelifted Porsche 911 is also on the way, as is a new Volkswagen Tiguan SUV.
In an attempt to turn around its ailing US operation, the VW brand will launch a facelifted version of the US-market Passat later this year. By the end of 2016, a long-wheelbase Tiguan and the production version of the seven-seat CrossBlue SUV will also be rolled out.
The new A4 will be based on Audi’s new MLB platform, which uses both steel and aluminium in its construction and is assembled with welding, rivets and adhesives. The first car to arrive on this architecture was the new Q7 SUV. The A4 is expected to be the smallest model based on this platform.
The development of three basic vehicle architectures by the VW Group underpins the company’s extensive model roll-out.
At today’s VW annual conference, VW boss Martin Winterkorn said the ability to build different models from different brands "bumper-to-bumper" on the same three basic production lines will eventually significantly reduce costs and improve profit margins.
While the costs of engineering and rolling out the three architectures have been significant, Winterkorn said the VW Group will be reaping "significant" rewards over the next few years.
Winterkorn went on to say that in 2015, some 2.7 million VW Group models – or 15% of all production - will be based on the new MQB architecture. This will leap to 7 million models by 2018, which should make it the biggest common automotive platform project yet seen.
Winterkorn pointed out that 30% of Skoda models are already based on the MQB platform and that the Czech brand is enjoying 7% profit margins, well ahead of the the VW brand’s 2.5%.
These three ‘modular toolkits’ will also allow production to be moved closer to where the cars are sold. The current Golf and new Passat are already being built on the same production line in a new German MQB factory.
Today, VW has 18 plants running MQB production lines. This will rise to 29 plants by 2016.
Over the next few years the transverse-engined MQB architecture will be used for models from the upcoming compact Audi Q1 SUV and VW Golf through to the new Passat and up to the new seven-seat SUV, which will be launched in the US in late 2016.
Audi’s MLB architecture will underpin all of the brand’s vehicles from the A4 to the Q7 as well as the upcoming A8 limo and Q6 battery-electric crossover model. It will also be used for the next Porsche Cayenne and the new Bentley Bentayga super-SUV. The MLB platform is natively front-wheel drive, but has a longitudinal engine layout.