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Magna Adapts to Change

Swamy Kotagiri
By Swamy Kotagiri Magna International Inc.

Automotive is one of the most complex and innovative industries in the world. The industry manufactures in high volume, is highly regulated, and the vehicles produced are safe products requiring more lines of code than an airplane.

Innovation continues to transform the industry and drives change from vehicle design and manufacturing to greater vehicle electrification, increased connectivity and automation. This innovation is not only about developing new technologies for the future, it’s also about improving in-market applications to address ongoing or emerging industry needs.

Magna International is one of a few global suppliers flexible enough to adapt and grow through this transformation. It’s a two-pronged approach of creating world-class products and systems for global automakers, while also developing new technologies for those providing mobility as a service. Spanning both aspects in the new mobility landscape plays to Magna’s strengths. We are tackling the technology challenges of today and defining what future systems will be needed 10–15 years from now.

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Currently available on the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid, Magna’s eRAD (electric rear-axle drive) system offers an independent means of combining an internal combustion engine with an electric traction drive, while at the same time adding four-wheel-drive capability.

As the only automotive supplier in the world with the ability to contribute to every part of the vehicle design, engineering and production, from electronics to complete vehicle assembly, Magna believes three key areas—autonomous vehicles, electrification and ride sharing—will continue to make the largest impact on the industry.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicle technology is setting the pace of change in the industry and therefore continues to be a key development focus for automakers and suppliers alike. This is an area where Magna continues to push the boundaries of innovation.

Our electronics capabilities offer features to enable autonomy at different levels. This includes sensor fusion, hardware, software and integration. We enable many features on the road today such as surround view, automated emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Building on our leadership position in driver assistance, our strong systems knowledge and complete-vehicle expertise give us the ability to efficiently fuse various sensors and to develop robust systems as vehicles continue to progress towards full autonomy. In addition, we continue to work with the broader ecosystem to address topics such as data privacy and cybersecurity.

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Magna’s EYERIS electronic vision system includes a 360° surround view system.

Although autonomous vehicle technology development is active among automakers and suppliers, Magna believes it will be several years before fully autonomous vehicles will be ready to leave controlled zones and gain widespread market acceptance. This creates opportunities to continue to improve essential safety features and software integration as well as the regulatory framework and infrastructure to support it. It also will be crucial to set a common technical standard that will allow the industry to provide the technologies to a wide range of customers.

Vehicle Electrification

While there is much talk in the industry regarding autonomous-drive and connected-car technologies, automakers are still challenged to improve fuel efficiency. The industry continues to develop innovative powertrain products in response to global trends driven by legislation and consumer preferences to improve the environmental friendliness of passenger vehicles. Vehicle electrification remains one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions and increase vehicle efficiency and will play a key role in automotive engineering over the next decade.

Magna’s complete vehicle knowledge supports our electrified powertrain products. These products are based on a platform approach to maximize economies of scale where increasing numbers of vehicles will be produced with hybrid and full electric propulsion systems. New products under development at Magna include powertrain systems and modules for vehicles equipped with 48-volt systems or mild hybrids as well as high voltage systems including full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle powertrains.

Ridesharing

The rising popularity of ridesharing in mega cities is changing traditional vehicle use. According to industry analysts, ridesharing currently represents 4% of the miles driven globally and by 2030 it is believed the number could grow to more than 26%. Miles driven by privately owned vehicles is also expected to dramatically increase over the same time period. Consequently, both are creating opportunities for automotive suppliers such as Magna.

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A Magna display showing the different types of materials in an automobile.

Both advanced driver-assistance and electrification technologies go beyond today’s owned vehicles to include shared vehicles, ride-hailing services and new forms of short-distance travel that complement or can be integrated into public transportation. All of these modes of transportation will be smart and connected to provide convenient, safer and cleaner transportation. These advanced technologies are leading to opportunities for Magna throughout our entire product portfolio to deliver innovations for all those who share the road now and in the new mobility landscape going forward.

Conclusion

The pace of innovation development in the automotive industry is like nothing we have ever seen before. As a result, a new mobility landscape is emerging, creating even more challenges and opportunities in an enlarging ecosystem. For Magna, this means leveraging our culture of innovation internally and embracing a new level of external innovation outreach with universities, startups and other industries.  Whether the next 10–20 years include an influx of autonomous vehicles, electrification, shared economy or new modes of transportation, Magna is ready with the expertise and global experience to help create the future of mobility.

Swamy Kotagiri is chief technology officer and president, Magna Electronics.

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