Issue: May 2019


Where electrification, autonomy and smart mobility intersect



by Clinton Wright

Visitors to CES 2019 were treated to the Magna International vision of how electrification, autonomy and smart mobility intersect.

From a full range of electrified powertrain configurations to demonstrating how flexible cabin space will better meet both driver and passenger needs, the “Welcome to Mobility” booth showcased Magna's future destination, where Mobility is Technology™.

According to Magna reconfigurable seating will play a large role in smart mobility solutions of the future. Visitors saw through a combination of full-scale demonstrations and a VR experience how long road trips, cargo transport services and mobile meetings can be transformed through technologies like haptic massage seats, personal sound zones and multi-sensor biometric sensing.

Seat positioning will play an increasingly important role in creating a flexible space where drivers and riders can move cargo, get work done and interact with each other more freely. “Magna’s seating innovation is driven by the belief that while the vehicle occupant experience will be very different with the introduction of mobility and autonomy, the functional basics will remain the same: passengers want convenience, flexibility and comfort,” said Mike Bisson, President Magna Seating in a press statement at CES 2019. “This approach has essentially helped us create seats that adjust to the consumer, instead of having the consumer adjust to seats.”

Last year, taking into account the global trend towards electrification in the automotive industry, Magna presented its etelligentDrive systems. Leveraging its legacy of powertrain leadership, Magna offers automakers a variety of solutions for electrified powertrain architectures -- from hybrids to full electrics. The e1 system consists of one highly integrated e-drive system on the front axle and one on the rear axle with two electric motors (e-motors). With this innovative approach, the demo car achieves superior longitudinal and lateral dynamics combined with excellent vehicle stability for more safety.

Magna’s electrified powertrain capabilities include key components for modern e-drive systems: e-motor, gearbox, inverter and control software that can be easily integrated into vehicles. The solutions range from products for 48-volt mild hybrids to highly integrated e-drive systems for battery electric vehicles. Electrified auxiliaries like thermal management modules, electric water pumps or electric oil pumps complete the portfolio.

Decade of innovation

For nearly 10 years Magna has been supporting customers in the U.S. and Europe from concept to production with products for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In 2009, the company announced a vehicle-development partnership with Ford Motor Company to introduce a zero-emission lithium-ion battery electric vehicle (BEV) – this became the Ford Focus BEV, which entered the market in 2011 and is still produced today. Magna is responsible for providing the e-motor, electronic control module / inverter and the transmission for this vehicle. And since 2012, Magna has supplied Volvo with the electrified rear axle drive system (eRAD) featured on the Volvo V60 and S60 plug-in hybrid models. Magna's eRAD system offers multiple hybrid driving modes while also adding electric all-wheel-drive capability.

Magna’s Actimax™ is designed for the intensive requirements of sports and premium vehicles, says the company. The active system splits torque, distributes it intelligently to the secondary axle and supports the pre-load in speed for the secondary axle. Modular software components allow customized compilation of functional modules to meet different requirements for efficiency, traction and driving dynamics. The Direct Actuation System in combination with Magna's controls strategy guarantees optimal torque accuracy and dynamic torque distribution. Actimax™ is available with different front output systems (gear and chain drive, concentric drive) to meet specific requirements for torque distribution, packaging, weight and efficiency.

Ultimax™ by Magna is optimized for the extreme requirements in off-road operation. Thanks to different versions and a variety of possible operational modes, Ultimax™ can effortlessly be adapted to perfectly meet individual vehicle requirements. Ultimax™ is available as a double speed part-time, full-time or active transfer case. The deep low ratio enables the operation in extreme off-road terrain or the pulling of heavy loads with best drivability under severe conditions. What makes Ultimax™ unique is the optionally available shift on the move functionality, which allows to switch between high and low ranges while driving, says Magna.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Swamy Kotagiri, Chief Technology Officer and President Powertrain, Magna International, to tell us more about the company’s CES stand.

Kotagiri: The title of our exhibition at CES was “Welcome to Mobility”. We showcased our view of the future where electrification, autonomy and smart mobility are all intertwined. We also showed how multiple powertrain configurations with scalable electric power for hybrid and electric vehicles are applied to meet the varying consumer demands for efficiency, performance and dynamics. Additionally, we had LiDAR object detection in action on a display screen, which shows how Magna will master the complexity of autonomous driving through modular, scalable configurations for any vehicle architecture and autonomy scale. This includes new seating configurations and smart city solutions which allow vehicles to be used and shared differently by making them more adaptable to varying needs and usage and adaptable to differing infrastructures.

AI: Tell us about the role seating will play in the cars of the future.

Kotagiri: New seating configurations will enable vehicles to be used and shared differently by making them more adaptable to varying needs and infrastructures. Seat positioning will get more and more important. It will enable passengers to create a flexible space where drivers can move cargo, get work done and interact with accompanying passengers.

As the functional basics will remain the same, we are creating innovative seating solutions focused on delivering the ideal user experience. Our seating innovations are driven by the belief that while the vehicle occupant experience will be very different with the introduction of mobility and autonomy, the functional basics will remain the same: passengers want convenience, flexibility and comfort. This approach has essentially helped us create seats that adjust to the consumer, instead of having the consumer adjust to seats.

AI: What are some of the trends you predict that will impact the way cars of the future will be designed?

Kotagiri: With brilliant and disruptive thinking everywhere, the question isn’t about when things like driverless cars are coming or when all vehicles will be fully electric. The question is about who is ready for these transformative shifts. In addition, the next generation of mobility and the requirements for mobility as a service are being defined by new class of service providers (i.e. Lyft, Waymo, May Mobility etc.). Cities are beginning to dictate requirements for powertrain (EVs) and autonomous capability.

In many cases sharing of mobility and making it multifunctional is the next step in improving city access and passenger movement. Partnerships with OEMs and these future service providers provide valuable insight and data into use cases, future design requirements and the direction consumers and customers are thinking for future mobility products and services. With the data we gather from these partnerships Magna can be ready with insight and technology solutions to support these future challenges and transformations.

AI: What is Magna’s strategy in the development of powertrain technologies for electric and hybrid vehicles?

Kotagiri: It is not just the impact of EVs, but rather the overall impact of the shift towards full electric. What was once six or so basic powertrain architectures (FWD, RWD, 4WD, AWD, AT, MT) will balloon to over 50 by 2025. Magna is focused on the development of scalable building blocks to support such proliferation. Especially important will be the building blocks for eMotors and inverters (48V and high voltage), as well as software. We have a deep understanding of vehicle system requirements to insure the developed building blocks will support powertrain system level needs at the OEMs.

At Magna we have complete vehicle system knowledge through our vehicle engineering and assembly operations experience at our Steyr Group. Our knowledge of powertrain systems from our transmission and driveline leadership position, as well as experiences in full EVs and PHEVs systems, form the basis for key scalable building blocks for powertrain variants needed going forward Including the path to full electrification.

Our expectation is that pure EVs will account for about 5% of the global sales in 2025, with an additional 10% in the HEV /PHEV space. About 33% will have 48V mild hybrid systems on board. This leaves the remaining 50% or so with traditional ICE engine-based powertrains.

AI: How have these technologies fared at Magna’s winter test event held in March last year in Sweden?

Kotagiri: We presented one of the world's first electrified transfer cases, the etelligentDrive eDS 48V High Performance System. This four-wheel concept offers better fuel efficiency than a two-wheel drive and thus lowers CO2 emissions without having to compromise on driving dynamics and safety. Being able to demonstrate technologies like this in real environments especially those as demanding as Sweden in the winter have been very beneficial and have garnered a lot of interests from customers.

AI: Where do you see the growth for your powertrains coming from?

Kotagiri: There will be a mix of different powertrain technologies. Of course, the country and its very specific needs will play a big role. In the medium term we expect the following development on the way to the electrification of mobility.

In next 3-4 years we expect to see the introduction and significant expansion of 48V Mild Hybrid systems, especially in Europe. The MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles) improves the operating efficiency of powertrains with ICE engines, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. For Europe this will be an important feature to offset the effect of lower penetration of Diesel engines, which have a better CO2 performance vs. gasoline engines.

We also expect to see further expansion of DCT transmissions globally, as this product is the most efficient automatic transmission and alone can reduce CO2 vs. traditional automatic transmissions. Our 7DCT300 is a base DCT which enables our OEM customers to upgrade to a P2.5 mild as well as full hybrid (including plug-in) without impacting installation / packaging in the vehicle. This is a really important feature for our OEM customers: a modular, scalable product enabling the flexibility of base ICE, mild hybrid and full hybrid functionality.

By 2025, in addition to further expansion of the 48V, we anticipate the introduction of so-called post-transmission 48V products. Given the base investment of a 48V board net and battery, there is opportunity to provide additional CO2 benefit, as well additional driving functions / features such as electronic traction assist, highway speed engine-off sailing, enhanced 4WD with front to rear torque vectoring to further improve stability in RWD vehicles.

MPT has developed a portfolio of such products in anticipation of this change. We are ready to support our OEM customers with these new products. We also expect significant proliferation of high voltage systems in passenger cars and light trucks. These systems will include High Voltage P2.5 Hybrid DCTs, again a scalable product where we simply install a higher power (75 kW for example), high voltage eMotor inside our base DCT transmission.

This enables all the benefits of pure hybrid functionality as well as plug-in hybrid capability when the OEMs install sufficient battery capacity to enable zero emission operation for periods of 50 miles for example. 

We further anticipate introduction of full battery electric vehicles from all OEMs globally. The demand for such vehicles will especially be seen in China, where legislation for New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) will require EVs and PHEVs be present in OEM fleets. Our expectation is that pure EVs (no ICE) will account for about 5% of the global sales in 2025, with an additional 10% in the HEV / PHEV space. About 1/3 (33%) will have 48V mild hybrid systems on board. This leaves the remaining 50% or so with traditional ICE engine-based powertrains (many of which will feature low cost start-stop systems as an efficiency / CO2 improvement).

AI then asked Anton Mayer, Senior Vice President of Magna Powertrain and Vice President, Magna International what has been the market response to the Actimax and Ultimax transfer cases.

Mayer: Our very successful transfer case solutions are proof of Magna’s ability to provide 4-Wheel Drive systems meeting the highest demands for driving dynamics, traction and performance combined with best-in-class efficiency. While Actimax™ is mainly designed for the requirements of sports and premium vehicles, Ultimax™ has been developed for extreme requirements in off-road operations.

The Actimax Transfer Cases allow for active and intelligent torque distribution to the secondary axle. Modular software components support customized mode-split applications within vehicles. In addition, it allows for customized compilation of functional modules to meet different requirements for efficiency, traction and driving dynamics across multiple vehicle models to satisfy specific customer needs.

To ensure the ultimate off-road performance, trailer-towing capability and robustness, the system is available as a double speed part-time, full-time or active transfer case. The deep low ratio enables the operation in extreme off-road terrain or the pulling of heavy loads with best drivability under severe conditions. Optionally, we offer a shift on the move functionality, which allows to switch between high and low ranges while driving.

AI: What will be the future strategy for these two?

Mayer: Driving dynamics and driving safety are two major factors that stay significant for end consumers for tomorrow’s vehicles and will further improve. However, the utilized technologies will furthermore consider electrified components to incorporate significant improvements and CO2 reduction potentials. By further improving the efficiency of our 4WD/AWD products and at the same time extending our electrified powertrain product line-ups, we are able to contribute to vehicle safety and drivability throughout all passenger car segments and powertrain technologies.

AI: What role does the Ecomax™ fully active transfer case play in pushing Magna’s powertrain technology?

Mayer: Magna's ECOMAX™ Transfer Case is a single speed active transfer case that is specifically designed for the use in combination with a front axle disconnect system. Besides the standard features of a fully active system as we know it from Actimax, it is capable to operate with a completely disconnected front axle drive during driving conditions where the additional traction of a 4WD system is not required. This allows us to achieve better fuel efficiency and CO2 reduction without any drawback to the customer’s perception of 4WD performance. With the disconnect system, the disadvantages of a traditional 4WD/AWD system such as more fuel consumption can be systematically eliminated.

AI: How does it fit in with Magna’s push towards electric and hybrid technologies?

Mayer: We need to work in both directions: optimize existing systems and develop new solutions for hybrid and battery electric vehicles. We also take advantage of our vast experience in driving dynamics. No matter if it has a conventional or electric drivetrain, the consumer wants to have fun driving the car. We can incorporate that in our mechanical and electrified systems.

AI: What trends in the growth of electric and hybrid technologies do you see as having a major impact in developing countries?

Mayer: The increasing need for mobility in combination with urbanization and the demographic change will have a major impact on the automotive industry. These trends are creating the need for new mobility concepts and new solutions to meet all the requirements around the globe. At the same time, we see many markets with less restrictive emission legislations. For these countries, state-of-the-art ICE technology in combination with mild and plug-in hybrid technologies would be a significant step towards CO2 reduction.

AI: What are some of the reasons for these trends?

Mayer: There is a lot of uncertainty in the automotive industry about what technology will be the ideal solution for tomorrow’s mobility. Beside the traditional ICE powertrain configurations, there are more than 40 possible electrified powertrain architectures emerging on the market, spread out over mild and plug-in hybrids to pure electric vehicles.

This increasing diversification and complexity of powertrain architectures, combined with uncertainties in production volumes, demand new strategies and solutions. Through a scalable and modular powertrain platform, we are able to master the conflicting goals of efficiency, performance and dynamics required for future powertrains. These scalable systems allow the OEM for brand, model and powertrain differentiation in different competitive market environments.

AI: What are some of the new powertrain technologies that will be introduced by Magna in 2019?

Mayer: We believe that the one way to meet the automotive industry’s demand is to leverage our etelligentDRIVE™ System – an intelligent, scalable platform concept with interchangeable building blocks including e-motor, invertor and gearbox. This platform gives us the opportunity to offer our customers with flexible system solutions for various hybridized and pure electric powertrains that allows them to retain their own DNA while meeting different legislative and end consumer requirements. In addition, the scalable vehicle performance and new features, such as improved longitudinal and lateral dynamics, which are essential for the end consumers, will help to ensure a quick market penetration of hybrid and electric drive systems.



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