Monday, June 19, 2006

2008 Mercedes Sportcoupé and a new trend for future cars

No new cars...
The last report on the next Mercedes sportcoupé made apparent a new trend in car manufacturing and design. In the compact class, and in the close future, several manufacturers will upgrade their cars without really making new cars. That is, keeping the most part of the platform unchanged and only making new panels and interior. This is rumoured to occur with the next Mercedes compact but also with the Peugeot 308 and VW Golf VI. If one considers the level of sophistication that cars in this class achieved (multilink suspensions, very high body stiffness and passive safety) it seems rational to keep development cost low by keeping the most part of the underpinnings unchanged. Other key feature: compact cars have grown up a lot in recent years - there isn't much more margin to keep increasing width and length of cars in this class. This is another point for relaxing on the development of completely new platforms.

However, that does not mean that consumers will be paying more for the same car. Prices are expected to keep at the same level or lower and still improvements can be made in stifness and NVH levels even if the platform is kept mostly the same. More good news: if the size of the cars does not grow a lot there is margin to apply some development efforts (read investment) in weight reducing measures. This new trend will be closely followed here at Auto-Future.

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