After being beaten out in the bidding war for Chrysler, Magna International (www.magna.com) is intent on showing the world it’s ready to move forward growing its core automotive supply businesses through the development of new products and technologies. The supplier says it spends an average of 7% of total annual revenues ($24.2 billion in 2006) on research and development functions, as outlined in its corporate constitution. Mark Hogan, President of Magna, says engineers and researcher teams are focused developing components and systems that reduce overall vehicle mass, as well as boosting fuel economy levels through powertrain advancements.
What’s interesting to note is that Magna engineers and developers are taking an imaginative approach to creating improvements. For example, rather than just taking input from wheel, body and powertrain sensors for all-wheel-drive engagement, they’ve developed a system called Climate Trac that also utilizes inputs from the windshield wiper and rear-window defroster to determine whether a system should be fully engaged. By using more inputs from the body controller, in addition to feedback from powertrain control sensors, Magna predicts OEMs can achieve nominal fuel economy improvements, as well as reduce the overall robustness of parts and achieve a corresponding weight reduction. Magna has also worked with General Motors to develop a new application for its Variable Displacement Vane Oil Pump technology, which will be installed directly into the engine block of the automaker’s next-generation V8 engines to improve oil distribution at higher RPMs, resulting in improved efficiency across all operation ranges.
There’s NaviMirror, which features an LCD touch screen with a Bluetooth receiver capable of managing information from mobile MP3 players, navigation devices and cell phones through a single source. The vehicle operator would adjust song selections, navigation inputs and phone communications directly through the mirror system, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road to reduce distraction. Magna plans to have the NaviMirror in production in 2009 and already has a commitment for it from a European OEM. The supplier is also busy working on its Intellispace floor console, featuring a beverage cooler, slim electronic control panel and ambient lighting package in a single design. The ability to use a slim electronic control panel, similar to those found in various Volvo products, paves the way for the rear seat occupants to have access to items stored in the cooler without sacrificing rear seat climate and entertainment controls.—KMK