New Mercedes platforms
The new Mercedes SL drop top roadster, due in 2019, will get an advanced new platform shared with the new SLK roadster.
What are Mercedes' plans for the future platforms?
The company is on a mission to improve the efficiency of it's new models, even sports cars, both in terms of the CO2 they emit and the speed at which they can be built. Part of this improvement has been achieved through the adoption of the MFA and MRA common modular architectures for front and rear wheel drive models. It allows cars such as the A-Class, CLA and GLA to be built on the same lines, which simplifies the production process and gives the company greater flexibility.
How will the new platform affect new Mercedes SL?
New rumours have spread that Mercedes now plans to launch a third architecture that will underpin both the new SL and the SLK replacements. The SL currently has it's own bespoke chassis platform, but will switch to the new modular sports car architecture (MSA) by the end of this decade. This new platform is currently being developed in Germany and means that the cars will share certain elements like the front bulkhead and parts of the suspension. All cars using this platform would then be built in the same factory in Bremen.
The platform will allow the length, width, height and wheelbases to be different to ensure the vehicles retain their distinct identities. As well as sharing parts, the new platform will cut weight of the vehicles. The MSA platform will also allow more variants to be offered than at present, including different types of convertible roof options, so there could be a lighter and simpler folding canvas top alongside something similar to today's more complicated and expensive folding metal hard top.
The new platform would not only accept a new range of petrol and diesel engines, and new nine speed automatic gearboxes, it's also being engineered to take alternative drivetrains, including plug in hybrid technology like that which is used by the latest C-Class. This new platform will also be offered with the company's 4MATIC system, as four wheel drive is becoming an increasingly popular option for sports cars.
The flexibility offered by these new platforms would help significantly lower emissions in the Mercedes range of vehicles.