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Global platforms and parts

by David Zatz on

Longtime Chrysler manufacturing veteran Scott Gaberding was chosen to discuss FCA’s global architectures and standardization.

First, he pointed out that the compact-wide architecture is used by a broad range of products, including Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Fiat Viaggio, Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200, and Jeep Cherokee. While both share dual pinion electric power steering, Dart and Cherokee have different rear suspensions: twist beam in Dart and multi-link in Cherokee. Common architectures make parts sharing possible but not mandatory.

Regardless, Mr. Gaberding said, weight reduction would have to take place across the board, since it is a major influence on city gas mileage and carbon dioxide emissions. (Aerodynamics are the largest player in highway mileage, followed by tire drag.)

The challenge of a common architecture, he said, was its flexibility — without reducing the capability of products at either end of the range.

Currently, FCA’s top four architectures are used in 48% of its vehicles; in 2018, the plan is for them to cover 70% of vehicles.  FCA had 18 architecture families in 2013; 95% of volume came from 12 of them. The plan is to reduce that number to 15 total families in 2018, with 95% of volume coming from nine of them. This should increase development speed, quality, and manufacturing flexibility, while cutting costs.

Likewise, standardized component families can be used across many architectures. He looked at the difference between a cross-car beam, used by all compact-wide cars, and a switch which can be used by just about any vehicle. His goal is to reduce the number of part families from 1,200 to 550 by 2018, to slash development costs and to increase volume discounts, saving 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) by the end of 2018.

Mr. Gaberding summarized by saying that their goals are:

  1. A coordinated strategy for flexible global architectures which use standardized components and modules
  2. Proliferating vehicles from global architectures to maximize product functionality and differentiation
  3. Reducing the number of standard module/component families by 54%, by 2018
  4. Putting the right component families on the shelf to optimize quality, cost, weight, and performance with improved speed to market
  5. Significant reductions in variable cost and investment
  6. Partnering with global, motivated and capable suppliers

In addition:

  • Quality will continue to be the most important metric, forcing changes to the selection and development of the  supply chain
  • Speed to market will require different approaches to sourcing business…and a greater amount of trust between FCA and suppliers
  • Market expansion in Asia-Pacific and Latin America will require new suppliers, while global architecture convergence will require FCA to work differently with existing suppliers.
  • Carbon dioxide compliance will require weight reduction in every architecture
  • Third party safety ratings will continue to evolve

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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