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An explosion at a Magna International divisional plant in Newmarket, ON, a manufacturing facility for Dortec Industries, occurred on Wednesday afternoon. Some nine people were injured in the accident and five or six (reports vary) were sent to the hospital. Magna has reported that all workers have since been released from the hospital.

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General Motors halted production at six of its plants last week after a fire at Magna International interrupted the companies' supply of interior parts. The conflagration also halted production at the AutoAlliance International Ford-Mazda joint-venture plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, and Automotive News says that Mustang production there won't resume until Friday, March 11. AN does not give a timeframe for when the Mazda6, also produced at AutoAlliance, will head back into production.

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BAIC C71EV – Click above for high-res image gallery

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GS Yuasa, the lithium-ion battery maker that recently dissolved its joint venture (JV) with Sanyo, is now eying the possibility of setting up shop with the assistance of Mitsubishi Corp. and Magna International Inc. The Nikkei reports that GS Yuasa will hold a majority stake in a new joint venture that's aimed at boosting lithium-ion battery production in Europe. Magna will reportedly hold a 20-40-percent share in the JV and Mitsubishi the remainder.

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Magna International, the world's third-largest automotive parts producer, announced its intentions to establish a new global unit, E-Car Systems, at this year's EcoXperience ride & drive track at the Detroit Auto Show. Now, Magna has opened the doors of its new hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) system development center and battery testing facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

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Ford Focus Electric battery packs – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Magna International, the giant international parts supplier, will use this year's EcoXperience ride & drive track at the Detroit Auto Show as a backdrop to launch their new global unit, E-Car Systems. As one might deduce from its name, this new unit will offer electric technology integration services to automakers, helping them develop hybrid-electric (HEVs) and all-electric vehicles (EVs).

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2009 Porsche Boxster S - Click above for high res image gallery

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2009 Porsche Boxster S – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Finally, after what seems like an eternity of protracted negotiations, bickering and stalling tactics, General Motors has agreed to sell a majority stake in its European operations to Magna International and its Russian financial partner Sberbank. Under the terms of the deal, 55% of Opel and Vauxhall will be owned by Magna/Sberbank; The General will hold on to a 35% stake and employees of the two companies will hold the final 10 percent.

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Over on General Motors' Europe "Driving Conversations" blog, VP John Smith has posted an update on the company's negotiations to sell a majority stake in Opel and Vauxhall. Although no final decision has been made yet, it's looking increasingly likely that the previous tentative agreement with Magna International may be usurped by a bid from RHJ International. This, despite the fact that the German government has been favoring the Magna bid because of the suppliers commitment to preserving jobs

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One of the many clauses that General Motors is reportedly trying negotiate into any deal involving majority control of Opel is the option to eventually buy back the stake it is selling.

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Magna Steyr Mila EV - Click image for high-res gallery

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It looks like Ford won't be the only company getting lithium ion battery packs from Magna International. The Magna Steyr division of the supplier announced last week that it will begin production of packs at its plant in Graz, Austria next month. The packs will be supplied to Volvo for use in its buses, heavy duty trucks and garbage trucks equipped with hybrid powertrains. Volvo uses a parallel hybrid system for its vehicles.

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If you tried telling us even as recently as a year ago that General Motors would be forced to sell its European assets and that a partnership between a Canadian parts supplier and a Russian bank would step up to take the stake, we'd have probably raised a few eyebrows. But such is the state of the General and the industry at large, with Magna and Sberbank looking poised to take a big chunk of Opel of GM's hands. The question everyone is asking, however, is what the Russian state bank wants with

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Click the Focus EV "mule" for a high res gallery

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With General Motors expected to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York on Monday morning, negotiators in Germany scrambled to finalize a deal to save Opel from insolvency. Following a six-hour meeting in the German Chancellor's office in Berlin on Friday evening, a deal was finally announced by finance minister Peer Steinbrueck. Although an overall deal to transfer control of Opel from General Motors was reached, details are still being worked out and a final contract won't be sig

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The Opel brand may be churning out some solid-looking products of late, but the European brand isn't long for the GM world. That isn't news, but the fact that a buyer will be chosen before the end of May is. GM CEO Fritz Henderson promised the quick turnaround of Opel during a Monday news conference, saying "several bidders" are interested in the brand.

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