Renault-Nissan to Streamline Future Cars With Common Module Family

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The Industrial Revolution brought factories and the production line into existence, and it didn’t take that long (in the grand scheme of things) for Henry Ford to put two and two together and start producing automobiles like clockwork. That was well over 100 years ago.

Over the past four years we’ve seen a new trend start to develop in the world of automotive manufacture… It’s Industrial Revolution 2.0: The Age of Modular. Earlier this week, Renault-Nissan unveiled their next shared project – a lego-like modular kit that will streamline the design and production of up to 14 different vehicles between the two companies over the next 7 years.

What The Common Module Family Is and Is Not

Make no mistake, the Common Module Family (CMF) is NOT a platform, it’s a kit. It’s a building-block-esque architecture that divides the car into four Big Modules (engine, cockpit, rear under-body and front under-body).

Where a platform typically refers to just the underpinning architecture of the car – steering, suspension, etc. – the Common Module Family encompasses every major part of the car. According to the Renault-Nissan Alliance press release, “A platform is a horizontal segmentation; a CMF is a cross-sector concept.”

Common Module Family

Therefore, you might think of this CMF kit as a collection of mini-platforms, or building blocks, for each major part of the car. And, these modules can be used and combined on any number of different actual platforms.

Which Cars Will Use the Common Module Family?

With the first roll-out of CMF, Renault-Nissan have plans to underpin at least 14 models primarily in the big SUV and compact car segments. However, Nissan currently only accounts for three of those nameplates – the upcoming Nissan Qashqai, the Nissan X-Trail and the Nissan Rogue. That being said, both brands plan to leverage this new modular architecture as much as possible, expanding onto several new model names beyond 2020.

This is where we see the beauty of a modular system. CMF literally gives Renault and Nissan a set of foundational building blocks that can be adjusted to construct any type of car. From heavy SUV to lightweight hatchback, all can be configured with the Common Module Family.

When Will We See CMF in Action?

While we might not see the results of CMF too quickly, behind the scenes Renault-Nissan projects that the modular system will, “generate an average 30-40% reduction in entry cost per model and 20-30% reduction in parts cost.” That’s some serious cost-savings, and should give both brands the freedom to pursue even more innovative projects and designs.

As far as actual vehicles based on CMF, the press release tells us to expect all three Nissan models by the end of the year. Our Renault fans will have to wait a bit longer though, as the first Renault vehicles built with CMF won’t hit the market until late 2014.

To finish up this blog post, let’s circle back to comparing the relative impact of modular manufacturing to production-line assembly. The more I learn about Renault-Nissan’s CMF, as well as other automakers who’ve adopted similar systems, the more I believe that modular is truly the way of the future. The cost-savings are too immense for the method not to make it into mainstream use, and I expect we’ll hear a lot more about CMF and similar systems over the next couple of years.

After all, these car makers can’t keep on reinventing the wheel every time they come up with a new model.

Sources: The Truth About Cars, Autocar, The Truth About Cars, Car Scoops, Autoblog

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