Issue: May 2019


Where electrification, autonomy and smart mobility intersect



by Clinton Wright

The company used CES 2019 to showcase a full range of electrified powertrain configurations and to challenge the traditional approach to seating configuration at its “Welcome to Mobility” booth. Visitors found 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. There is a long history of innovation - 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. Magna provides the e-motor, electronic control  module / inverter and the transmission. 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.

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: We showcased our view of the future where electrification, autonomy and smart mobility are 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.

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 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. 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 affecting vehicle design? 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.

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. 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.

AI: Where do you see the growth for your powertrains coming from? Kotagiri: 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. In the 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 Vehicle 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 than gasoline engines. We also expect to see further expansion of DCT transmissions globally, as this product is the most efficient automatic transmission and can reduce CO2 compared to 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 systems, we anticipate the introduction of so-called post-transmission 48V products. Given the base investment of a 48V board, network and battery, there is opportunity to provide additional CO2 benefits, as well additional driving functions / features such as electronic traction assist, highway speed engine-off sailing, and enhanced 4WD with front to rear torque vectoring to further improve stability.

We are ready to support our OEM customers with a developed portfolio of 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.

All OEMs globally will introduce full electric vehicles. 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 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  



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