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Vehicle Electrification a Key Strategic Initiative for Magna; Steady Increases in Capabilities and Technology Portfolio Over Past Few Years

Canada-based international auto supplier and contract assembler Magna International, now with a Memorandum of Understanding for the acquisition of Opel from General Motors (earlier post), sees vehicle electrification as one of its key strategic initiatives. Accordingly, it has been steadily increasing its capabilities with hybrid and electric vehicle technologies over the past several years.

At Magna’s Annual General Meeting, held earlier this month, Magna Co-Chief Executive Officer Siegfried Wolf noted that Magna has the capability to develop and produce many of the key components that are new and unique to electric vehicles. A key competitive advantage for the company, he said, is its “ability to integrate these new technologies into the complete vehicle and to develop complete vehicle concepts for pure electric mobility.”

At last year’s meeting, I highlighted our efforts towards electrification of the vehicle. We have come a long way in a year’s time. Our mila ev concept presented at the Geneva motor show was newly developed from the ground up as a unique full electric vehicle platform without the need for modification, retrofitting or conversion. The platform is ready for use, for every OEM specifically to design. Or in simple words, we deliver the rolling chassis, the OEM puts an exterior design on top.

Overall we are developing a strong position in electric vehicles, with Magna Steyr as the core of our complete vehicle competence, together with Magna’s Electronics, Powertrain and Cosma groups.

—Siegfried Wolf

The most complete series production example yet of this increasing capability was the announcement by Magna and Ford at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January that the two were jointly developing a new Ford battery electric C-platform global small car for 2011. (Earlier post.) Magna is providing the electric traction motor, transmission, motor controller, Lithium-ion energy storage system, battery charger and related systems.

Magna will also share in the engineering responsibility to integrate the electric propulsion system and other new systems into the vehicle platform architecture.

In March 2009, Magna Electronics, an operating unit of Magna International Inc., and BRUSA Elektronik AG, a developer and supplier of high-efficient power electronics and electric motors, formed a collaboration on electric and hybrid vehicle applications. (Earlier post.) The two companies said that the collaboration enhanced both their positions in developing and supplying components and systems to the emerging global automotive market for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Shortly prior to the BRUSA announcement, Magna introduced the mila ev concept at the Geneva Motor Show 2009. The core of the mila ev is a fully integrated electric vehicle platform which could be used by an OEM as the basis for production-vehicle development of a full battery electric vehicle, or with natural gas, fuel cell or hybrid drive, Magna said. The mila ev is driven by a 67 hp (50 kW) electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack developed by Magna Steyr. (Earlier post.)

In October 2008, Magna Electronics, an operating unit of Magna International Inc., acquired BluWav Systems LLC (formerly Wavecrest Laboratories), a developer and supplier of controls, motors and energy-management systems for hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)

BluWav had concentrated on five main product areas: Motor design; Motor control hardware, software, and drive electronics; Vehicle requirements analysis, system optimization, and performance validation; Vehicle control systems; and Energy storage systems.

In 2007, Magna Steyr brought its HySUV hybrid concept to EVS-23 in Anaheim. (Earlier post.) The converted Mercedes ML 350 features an electric four-wheel drive module (E4WD) developed by Magna Powertrain and Siemens VDO and lithium-ion storage system developed by Magna Steyr.

Earlier in 2007, Peter Pichler, Product Manager for Battery Systems at Magna Steyr, said that the company was developing a series of lithium-ion energy storage systems for a range of hybrid electric vehicle applications including mild (10-30kW); full (30-70kW—also for use with a fuel cell vehicle); and heavy duty (70-200 kW).(Earlier post.)

At that time, he said that Magna Steyr will put its lithium-ion packs into series production in 2009, and that it was developing a pack for plug-in hybrids using prismatic cells with a 2010 target.



For Magna to buy and transform Opel into an advanced PHEV-BEV builder it will have to collect the unpaid hundreds of $ M from GM and Chrysler USA/Canada.

Magna already has the capabilities to mass produce most of the components required to build various sizes of PHEVs and BEVs at Opel's plants and to compete with GM's Volt, Ford's Fusion, Toyota's Prius etc.


I assume you are saying GM and Chrysler owe Magna many $M?

I heard that Germany has underwritten $4B in loans for Magma - but that seems odd.

What a mess.



Your assumption with regards to GM + Chrysler huge debt to Magna is correct. Rumors are the Ontario + Ottawa will pay Magna for those debts (with public $$$) shorty.

Yes, the German government will loan Magna $1.5B to buy xx% of Opel and keep it going for xx months.


I thought the Chevy Malibu was based on an Opel chassis. Maybe Magna can advance the development of a dual mode hybrid more quickly. That would offer the consumer more choices.


Harvey, do you know if the bailout projections show car sales increasing to 2003 levels anytime soon?

If it were my $$ I would assume 2009 levels for the next several years and the average selling price per unit dropping by about 1/3 from today's average selling price.



Four realities have to be considered.

1) The current recession will last much longer than many are willing to believe. People will no longer buy huge vehicles that they cannot afford and do not realy need.

2) The automobile industry will never be the same. The days of the huge $30K to $50+K ICE gas guzzlers are over. The old days giants (GM, Chrysler, and many others) will go bankrupt if they dont change (adapt) quickly enough. The surviving car builders will have to do it very differently. Tata, BYD, Magna Electrics, and many others will show the way to go.

3) To survive, future automobile builders will have to build much smaller, much more efficient, lower cost, partly and/or fully electrified vehicles.

4) China will soon be number one vehicle builder and India will be number two within a few years. EU will be number three and USA may hold the fourth place for a short while.


Actually someone forgot to mention Japan in the world of vehicle manufacturers. As for cars made in China, based on the quality of other products coming from that workers paradise, one would be wise not to touch them with a ten foot pole.

There is an overcapacity of car manufacturing for the present market conditions. This will not change anytime soon. The industry will have to adjust here and abroad. Consumers are holding on to their old vehicles and having them repaired rather than buying new. This is true even for upscale drivers. The situation won't change even if gas prices increase.

The bottom line is green cars won't replace the present fleet anytime soon.

It's a whole new world.


China and India will have no problem mass producing much lower cost reliable electrified vehicles and batteries. It is not so hi-tech.

More and more people think that USA/Canada may not be able to compete in the e-vehicle field for more than a few years.

EU may face similar but not exactly the same problem because they are used to much smaller cars and they will adapt to smaller e-vehicles much more quickly.

The $100+K Tesla e-roadster is not the solution.

The success of post-bankruptcy GM and Chrysler remain to be seen.


Even if hybrids started selling at 3% over the next 10 years, you would still only have about 5 million of the 140 million cars in the U.S. hybrid, getting about 40% better mileage.

E10 nation wide is like taking more than 10 million cars off the road completely, not just 5 million getting 40% better mileage. Cellulose biofuels can reduce oil imports more than hybrids. Plug hybrids could reduce oil imports more, but when will we see 3% of the cars on the road PHEV?



Very good questions and remarks.

With 15 year turn over, ICE gas guzzlers vehicles will be around for at least 2+ more decades. USA will consume up to 20 million barrel a day for many years unless the current recession last much longer than many of us think. I heard 5 to 8 more years before we get back to 2007 level.

The key is accellerated development of e-storage units. Much higher performance (500 Wh/Kg) at much lower cost ($250 Kwh) is needed to compete with low cost ICE vehicles.

In the longer terms, e-vehicles should be cheaper than ICE counterparts (on a 7 to 10 year operation period) and/or whenever appropriate e-storage units are available. An e-car could be very simple. Four mass produced low cost Michelin e-wheels and a plastic re-enforced body.... and you have a basic e-car.

Of course, people with more money could buy bigger more complex units, even a beautiful Chinese e-Hummer.... etc


Quoth SJC:

E10 nation wide is like taking more than 10 million cars off the road completely, not just 5 million getting 40% better mileage.
That is IF you do not consider the inputs to the ethanol.  Also, we are already running into the limits of E10 saturation.
Cellulose biofuels can reduce oil imports more than hybrids.
I think you misunderstand the meaning of the word "can".  "Might" is more accurate; the technologies for cellulosic ethanol are still not commercially competitive.
Plug hybrids could reduce oil imports more, but when will we see 3% of the cars on the road PHEV?
2.8% of car sales are hybrids today, and vehicles already on the road can be retrofitted.


"..you misunderstand the meaning of the word "can". "Might" [is] more accurate.."

In 1900, one day we might go to the moon. By 1960 it was thought that we CAN go to the moon and by 1969 we DID go to the moon. I think I understand the use of the word. But, you use the word IS, as if you are the final say on what IS and IS not.

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