If you're as fascinated by internal development of product at Audi and its Volkswagen Group parent then you'll likely not want to miss this blog post (linked below) we've found over at Automotive News Europe.
From the sounds of the piece, Audi and Porsche had both lobbied for developmental control of sports cars and big luxury cars. According to the report, the decision was made by Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn and an announcement was made on November 30.
Development identified by the AN piece include VAG's "Modular Standard Matrix" (MSM ?) said to underpin the Porsche Panamera and future Bentleys. The second platform Porsche will assume developmental control over is a "front-mid and rear-mid-engine cars for Porsche, audi and Lamborghini. From the story we're unable to determine whether this includes the MIMO or transverse mid architecture we've previously referred to as MQB Mid and/or the longitudinal MSS architecture that will underpin the Lamborghini Murcielago successor, Gallardo successor and the next R8. We're betting this at least includes MSS.
Porsche will add a new wind tunnel, design center, electronics integration center and about 100 engineers to its facility in Weissach in order to take on the task. According to the story, Audi also lobbied for control of these two tasks though it will now focus on the MLB (modular longitudinal matrix) component set that will underpin everything from A4 to A8 and Q7 at Audi. MLB was said to underpin the Lamborghini Estoque concept and a steel version of the older D platform that pre-dated MLB was used for the Volkswagen Phaeton and the Bentley Continental series of cars. Whether these cars remain on the MLB remains to be seen. Same goes for the Bentley Brooklands which we'd been told also may have used some MLB underpinnings. The story did suggest the number of vehicles said to use MLB will jump to 15 in the mid term. Note, we're not limiting body variants such as A5 Sportback or Cabriolet as those would knock the number well over 15.
Our best count of MLB cars current and future include:
1. Audi A4
2. Audi A5
3. Audi A6
4. Audi A7
5. Audi A8
6. Audi Q5
7. Audi Q7 (next-generation)
8. Porsche Cajun (upcoming new 5-passenger crossover)
9. Porsche Cayenne (next-generation)
10. Volkswagen Touareg (next-generation)
11. Volkswagen Phaeton (next-generation)
Other possible MLBs if previous plans or rumors go unchanged.
12. Audi quattro
13. Bentley Continental
14. Lamborghini Estoque
Further, the piece also mentions that Volkswagen will control development of the "modular transverse matrix" or MQB that will "debut with the Audi A3 in 2012 and eventually underpin 40 models and 6 million units annually".
MQB being developed by Volkswagen is nothing new. Of course Audi will do their own tailoring but the transverse architecture effects mainly Volkswagen, SEAT and Skoda. It will encroach the Audi lineup only for the A1, A3 and TT. The MQB Mid or MIMO mid-engine variation of that will likely underpin an Audi and a Porsche as well so we're unclear whether this would go to Porsche or Volkswagen to further develop but we suspect VW.
MSS is another question entirely. As far as we can tell MSS has been in development since before the Porsche and Volkswagen Group pairing actually happened , though rumors of Porsche's involvement have always been there from the earliest Kacher suggestions of a Cayman/Boxster/"Audi R4". We know MSS will underpin R8 and the replacements for Gallardo and Murcielago replacements.
That Porsche does the bulk of development may have been determined as much for perception as anything else. Porsche already has plenty of experience developing sportscars and likely lends more exotic cred to upcoming Bentley and Lambo models. It likely wouldn't hurt the R8's reputation to have a Porsche-developed chassis and the 911 is holy ground... that Porsche would hand over 911 chassis development to anyone other than themselves would likely only serve to water down the Porsche brand.
From a control standpoint this may be a loss for Audi but the overall split of tasks throughout the group seems like a strong one strategically. Our only hope is that Audi or someone of like mind has a say in the interior and infotainment development of the platforms. However, knowing how group development goes and the Touareg's recent switch to a re-faced MMI infotainment system has us believing the technological cream rises to the top within the Volkswagen Group.
Read more of this story at Automotive News Europe after the jump.