New Mercedes Platform Opens The Door For An Invasion Of FWD Models
New FWD platform means more Mercedes models in the pipelineby Kirby Garlitos, on
Talking about auto platforms isn’t the most exciting topic in the world. It’s definitely not water cooler talk since one needs to have a certain understanding of the industry to have a grasp on the importance of platforms and the role they play in the manufacturing process of vehicles. That’s really the hidden secret of this particular component of a car. You rarely see them physically, but they’re considered the backbone of every vehicle because, quite literally, cars take shape depending on the size of a specific platform. I bring this up because Mercedes-Benz is in the news thanks to its next-generation front-wheel-drive platform, which it says can accommodate as many as eight different models.
Speaking with Car and Driver, Mercedes-Benz brand chief Ola Källenius revealed that the automaker’s new front-wheel-drive platform, tentatively called Modular Front-Wheel-Drive Architecture 2 (MFA2), will pave the way for the company to add more models to its current front-wheel drive lineup. As it stands, Mercedes’ existing FWD architecture is used by five different models, namely the A-Class hatchback, the B-Class, the CLA-Class, the CLA-Class Shooting Brake, and the GLA-Class. The new MFA2 FWD platform will not only give all five models a new architecture but, more importantly, it will be used on at least three more models. Källenius didn’t dive into the specifics on which three new models will join the five existing models that already use the current FWD platform. The more likely scenario, though, points to new variants of the aforementioned models, possibly including an A-Class sedan, an A-Class L long-wheelbase sedan, and a CLA-Class “four-door coupe” sedan.
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The auto industry is a complicatedly fickle business
Remember when Mercedes-Benz made news back in March 2017 because it wanted to cut down on coupe and cabriolet models? Back then, the company described them as niche cars that are slowly losing their appeal to sedans, crossovers, and SUVs, particularly in large markets like China and Asia. Well, the company’s new front-wheel drive platform does add more weight to its plans of focusing more on sedans, crossovers, and SUVs. It’s an interesting development considering that adding at least three new models into the overall lineup smacks against the purpose of streamlining those so-called niche coupes and cabriolets to free up more breathing room for the existing models.
The take away now is that the company is eliminating models to make room for new ones that it thinks are going to sell more in today’s automotive marketplace
Then again, maybe Mercedes wasn’t really planning to cut down on its models in the first place. The take away now is that the company is eliminating models to make room for new ones that it thinks are going to sell more in today’s automotive marketplace. Adding weight to this sentiment is the belief that a lot of the rumored models that are currently in the pipeline will make use of the new FWD platform. It’s not just about the three all-new models that I mentioned above. There’s also the chance that we’re going to see a GLB-Class Off-Roader arrive on the market in the coming years sporting the same MFA2 FWD platform.
The possibilities start opening up when we’re talking about a new platform, as it should. That’s a big reason why there’s a lot of optimism within Mercedes-Benz regarding the fate and status of this new platform. Once it launches and starts getting used, there are a lot of more opportunities for the automaker to reconfigure its characteristics to accommodate more models down the road.
For now, the current MFA platform will remain in use until the development of the German automaker’s new front-wheel drive platform concludes. When that change is going to happen is entirely up to how fast Merc’s engineers and designers work. Only when it’s up-and -running will we get a clearer picture of what the company plans for its new front-wheel drive architecture.
Source: Car and Driver