It was developed by Audi and first introduced in 2007 on the Audi A5 then, chronologically, on the Audi A4, Audi Q5, Audi A8, Audi A7, Audi A6, Porsche Macan and the second generation Audi Q7 (MLBevo). Until 2015, only Audi and Porsche were using the MLB platform. In February 2016 Volkswagen introduced the MLB based Phideon luxury sedan built and sold uniquely in the Chinese market.
Volkswagen Group markets the strategy under the code name MLB, which stands for Modularer Längsbaukasten, translating from German to "Modular Longitudinal Matrix". MLB is one strategy within VW's overall MB (Modulare Baukasten or modular matrix) program which also includes the similar MQB strategy for its vehicles with transverse engine orientation.
While a model may be said to use an MLB platform, it is not so much a platform per se, but rather a system for introducing rationality across disparate platforms that share engine orientation — regardless of model, vehicle size or brand. Thus, MLB uses a core "matrix" of components across a wide variety of platforms — for example, sharing a common engine-mounting core for all drivetrains (e.g., gasoline, diesel, natural gas, hybrid and purely electric). The only things that are non-variable are the pedal box, firewall, and front wheel placement, as well as the windscreen angle; other than this, the vehicle can be stretched and shaped to fit any body style, size range, or drivetrain required. As well as reducing weight, the concept allows diverse models, including those from the company's various brands, to be manufactured at the same plant, further saving cost. Ulrich Hackenberg, former chief of Volkswagen’s Research and Development, called MB a "strategic weapon."
Jalopnik said "the biggest feature is the uniform position of all motors and transmissions" and that "by fitting all motors into the same place (the company) hope(s) to cut down on engineering costs and weight/complexity when porting the car over to other models." The British magazine, Car, said "the idea heralds a return to basic principles of mass production in an industry where over the last 100 years, complexity has spiralled out of control. By creating a standardised, interchangeable set of parts from which to build a variety of cars, (the company) plans to cut the time taken to build a car by 30%."
The Modular Longitudinal Matrix is the use of a modular strategy in vehicle platforms in which the drive train is mounted longitudinally to the direction of travel.[..] This concept is already used at Audi since 2007 to develop vehicles. [section header] "MODULAR TRANSVERSE MATRIX (MQB)" - The Modular Transverse Matrix signifies the next quantum leap in the extension of the cross-brand platform and modular strategy. As an extension of the modular strategy, this toolkit can be deployed in vehicles whose architecture permits a transverse arrangement of the drivetrain components. The MQB enables us to [..]
The Q5 borrows its MLP (Modular Longitudinal Platform) architecture from A5 coupe and 2009 A4 sedan and wagon