General Motors is following the lead of the Ford Motor Co. with plans to cut its number of vehicle platforms in half and dramatically streamline its global business.
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The new international direction will see the number of core vehicle platforms slashed from 30 to just 14.

In total, 90 per cent of GM’s vehicles will share these 14 platforms by 2018, in a move that is expected to increase the efficiency of the brand’s manufacturing process by as much as 40 per cent.

GM also plans to half the number of engine architectures it produces, down from about 20 to 10 by the end of this decade.

The Australian-made Holden Commodore is expected to maintain its current Zeta platform - first introduced in 2006 - for most of this decade.

GM’s new global product chief, Mary Barra, said the company had been tremendously wasteful in the past, and lost up to $US1 billion every year in starting projects and not seeing them through.

She explained GM could have launched the Acadia, Enclave and Traverse SUVs 18 months earlier if it was smarter in its financial support of their development processes.

Under the new strategy, Chevrolet will strengthen its position as GM’s core brand, with its global sales planned to account for 65 per cent of the company’s total sales, up from 61 per cent in 2010.

The move, outlined during a GM global briefing this week, is similar to the One Ford strategy, which was introduced in 2007 and is now baring fruit, with the global Ford Focus the first product of the fresh approach.

The Volkswagen Group is another great proponent of the streamlined strategy, with its platforms and drivetrains shared across a number of different brands and body styles.

We are already seeing GM’s globalisation strategy taking shape. The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu will be sold in up to 100 countries, including Australia as the 2012 Holden Malibu later next year, while the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic (Holden Barina in Australia) will also spread through a number of international markets.