Magna International Expands its Electric Hybrid Design Program
Giant Canadian auto component supplier Magna International has moved one step closer to bringing a new gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle to market, confirming that it now plans to show a running prototype in 2010 and acquiring Michigan-based BluWav Systems LLC, a firm that specializes in a full range of advanced electric propulsion and energy management packages for hybrid and pure electric vehicles.
Speaking with Automotive News, Ted Robertson, chief technical officer for the world's third-largest producer in the industry reaffirmed that Magna is currently seeking an existing automaker to partner with on the hybrid project. He also noted that Magna would be capable of providing not only all of the primary powertrain components for the vehicle, but to deliver an entire turnkey package, if necessary. While the firm's internal development efforts are now focused on a sedan, all of the basic platform design and related technologies could be readily transferred to any other vehicle configuration.
Earlier in the year, Magna set aside $30 million to cover costs associated with its expanding hybrid program. That additional investment came shortly after it displayed its MILA Hybrid concept on/off-roader at the Geneva Motor Show, a slick design exercise that used electric boost in consort with an internal combustion engine fueled by compressed natural gas. Last week's acquisition of BluWav will further bolster Magna's already formidable expertise when it comes to developing energy-efficient designs for high-draw systems like heating/air-conditioning, as well as for other functional areas where the unique demands of a hybrid configuration create issues that can seriously impact overall performance and range.