Self-Driving Cars

Magna Introduces Its Own BEV & PHEV Platforms

Magna may be the biggest car company you have never heard off. It makes its living developing and building automobiles for other companies, like BMW, Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover, and Toyota. On its website, Magna proclaims, “Our innovation and manufacturing competence is based on a comprehensive understanding of the vehicle. We offer modular solutions for every system and part as well as complete vehicle assembly. Whatever the needs and goals of our customers, Magna is an innovation partner that brings them there. Fast.”

The largest car companies, like Volkswagen and General Motors, design their own EV platforms, but for smaller companies like Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Mazda — as well as all the other wannabe car companies springing up everywhere — the cost of developing electric cars can be prohibitive. Magna wants to help. This past week, it unveiled details of two new platforms it has developed in-house — one for plug-in hybrids and one for 100% battery electric cars.

PHEV For Thee And Me

For most CleanTechnica readers, plug-in hybrids are old tech that should not be part of the EV revolution conversation. The worst part about a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is that it still relies on a gasoline engine, with all the complexity and extra costs that implies. On the other hand, it can completely eliminate range anxiety — one of the primary reasons people shy away from buying an electric car in the first place.

Called the Magna EtelligentEco, the new plug-in hybrid platform from Magna features cloud-based connectivity that can guide drivers to charging stations where electricity from renewable sources is available. It also analyzes the route ahead and makes recommendations on how to lower emissions based on traffic, terrain, and other factors.

Magna says the platform can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 38%, but exactly how that figure is calculated is not made completely clear. We know that recent studies in Europe suggest some of the plug-in cars actually pollute more than conventional cars.

Electrive reports the EtelligentEco platform uses a 120 kW motor and a hybrid transmission and will have an all-electric range of 100 kilometers. It also suggests if Magna is basing its claim of a 38% reduction in emissions on using only renewable electricity to recharge, that figure is subject to change depending on the source of electricity available.

Smart Dual Motor Platform

Magna’s other new platform is for battery electric vehicles only and comes with two electric motors, one driving the rear wheels and the other driving the front wheels. Called the Magna EtelligentReach, features “intelligent operating software and controls. The advanced technology now delivers a significant range increase and further enhanced driving dynamics. In fact, with innovation upgrades to the software and hardware, the range is extended another 20%, or more than 145 km in total when compared to existing vehicles in production.”

This latest BEV platform includes “an advanced decoupling function, inverters with silicon carbide technology, and a further-improved operating software, which result in advancements that will benefit all of Magna’s electric drive solutions and next-generation hybrid drives,” the company says.

“As automakers continue to progress towards a zero-emissions future, we are the supplier partner that can give them new and innovative products to help them get there,” says Tom Rucker, president of Magna’s powertrain division. “Based on our vehicle systems expertise and scalable building blocks technology approach, we can match our customers’ needs with complete electrified powertrain solutions as well as subsystems and components.”

A Tale Of Two Business Models

Last fall, Fisker announced that Magna would build its Ocean electric SUV. Recently, it said it has struck a deal with Foxconn to build a second Fisker model. Announcements are just speculation, however, that may or may not ever come true. Peter Rawlinson, CEO of Lucid Motors, told Barron’s last week he believes car companies need to own their own capacity. In his view, the entity that owns the assets is the one that has the most opportunity for profit. “Someone has to own the assets,” Rawlinson said.

In truth, all that Henrik Fisker seems to bring to the table is his ability as a designer. The Ocean is okay — although, some might say it looks a lot like every other compact SUV in the automotive universe today. Whether any actual Fisker automobiles ever see the light of day remains to be seen.

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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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