Badge Engineering vs Platform Sharing

When does platform sharing cross the line and become badge engineering? We can all agree that platform sharing is a good thing – it allows manufacturer’s to keep costs down while offering a variety of vehicles. That means more choices at a better price.
We can also all agree that badge engineering is a very bad thing. Taking a vehicle, making only superficial changes, and then slapping a different badge on it does not a different vehicle make.

So, let’s look at an example of successful platform sharing. One that springs quickly to mind is Nissan, and their use of their FM platform. Currently the FM platform is the foundation of the Maxima, Murano, and Quest. Each of these vehicles is a distinct body style ( sedan, suv/cuv, and minivan ), and has it’s own personality. No one would confuse one with another, and shoppers aren’t likely to consider more than one of these vehicles.
Both the Murano and Quest are relatively low volume units, so they absolutely benefit from being able to use the Maxima platform, rather than needing one developed from scratch.

Now, for the other side of the fence – badge engineering. There are many blatant examples of badge engineering, but one that comes most readily to mind is from Daimler Chrysler. The Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country duo is one of the very worst offenders. The vehicles are both minivans, with the same equipment, similar pricing, same level of quality, and even remarkably similar styling. The two vehicles serve the same exact purpose and are targeted at the same exact market. There is simply no good reason for both to exist.

And that right there is what marks the difference between platform sharing and badge engineering. If there’s no major differences between the vehicles, and no reason for both to exist, they just shouldn’t.

Published on January 22, 2007 in Ponderings

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