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What is Giorgio Global—and is this the end of the old platform strategy?

by David Zatz on

Earlier this year, an FCA global platform strategy summary sheet was briefly shown on social media. It specified five global platforms: B-wide, B-wide-and-stretched; Giorgio,  and “Giorgio Global,” a “worldwide platform hybrid.”

B-wide and B-wide-and-stretched are the current iterations of an old platform developed by Fiat and GM; and C-wide seems to be either a renaming or evolution of the old CUSW (essentially, Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s platform as adopted by Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge). But what of Giorgio and Giorgio Global?

giulia-behind-giulia

The company’s new large-car platform was reportedly a global effort, but in the end, it appears that plans changed as time went on, and it was forked into two basic food groups. Originally, the plan was to have a single large car platform developed jointly by the American and Italian groups, which would serve Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Maserati (in alphabetical order). Later, it appears that was deemed impractical, and Giorgio was created largely for Alfa Romeo. It’s quite possible engineers saw greater specialization as the only way to make the Giulia best-in-class—just as they had to deviate from Fiat’s B and C car platforms to make cars suitable for Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep.

That leaves us with Giorgio Global, which, based on various rumors, leaks, and official statements, appears to be a melding of existing vehicles with some aspects of the Giorgio platform/architecture. That should come as no surprise; the current large-car platform works quite well for Maserati, which essentially kept many of the dimensions but changed the front suspension to make it feel more lively and perform better. If FCA came out with an “all-new” platform and architecture which were just an evolution of the Ghibli/Quattroporte setup, it might do just fine in tests and the markets.

maserati Levante Trofeo

Why bother with Giorgio Global? There are a few reasons. First and foremost, Giorgio would apparently not be suitable for larger cars and crossovers. Quite aside from that, any car built in Brampton would have to fit on Brampton carriers, or incur a huge refitting expense (the kind of expense Sergio Marchionne often approved, but money seems to be tighter now with analysts believing a recession, if only in the auto industry, is on the way).

One can ask if it even matters, in this day and age. Platforms were once extremely important as money-savers. In addition to the core dimensions, which technically were all that made up a platform—and which could be a bit arbitrary—automakers tended to include basic architectures and parts groups as part of the platform. One never found a B-body with an independent rear suspension or four-speed automatic.

Time moves on, though, and software gets more powerful. Just as new software is often written on platforms with reusable components, automotive engineers can copy and paste component groups—dashboards, front or rear suspensions, powertrain groups, electronics—between different vehicles.

This technology-induced modular approach means it‘s less important that vehicles share platforms, as long as the cars can fit on the same carriers and are within the robots’ reach. What’s more, “platform” can be defined more or less loosely. While in the past a Chrysler platform generally implied a certain mix of technologies under the skin, and even the tilt of the windshield, the definition today can be quite loose. Platforms and architectures have been split apart; it’s not even insane to consider a single platform with rear and front drive versions (which Chrysler did in the 1990s with the LH, though they never actually produced both versions at once).

Giorgio Global could indeed be a mix of the Grand Cherokee, Charger, and Maserati Quattroporte/Ghibli platforms and architectures—with whatever Alfa Romeo, Pacifica, Jeep, and Ram parts will fit. It could encompass the new Grand Cherokee “WL,”  the Charger and Challenger, and a few Maseratis, while being quite different in dimensions, tuning, and parts in each case. Or it could be a traditional platform, with essentially the same key hard points. Chances are the Maseratis and Mopars will share very little in terms of suspension and engine parts; but whatever can be shared without anyone noticing, will be shared. It all becomes a question of what is cheapest and easiest, without hurting brand identity.

Throughout it all, expect Maserati and Alfa Romeo to be favored in publicity, with the cheaper brand “sharing” or “adopting” their technologies. FCA, like Chrysler before it, learned the hard way that critics prefer technologies to show up on expensive cars first. What is “cheap” on a Dodge is “luxurious” on a Mercedes or Maserati—if it shows up on the M-car before the D-car (which explains the name “Giorgio” in a company that always uses acronyms).

We’ll apply all this information in a forthcoming article on what we can expect from the Wagoneer.

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