Please excuse us while we banish thoughts of David Letterman's hosting of Oscar night – Magna; MILA... Uma; Oprah – and instead focus on what this concept car brings to the table. This is the sixth MILA Concept from Magna-Steyr, the Austrian arm of Canadian auto parts giant Magna International, and it's meant to showcase the capabilities of the supplier.
Magna Steyr may not be a name most consumers would recognize, but it is one of the biggest players in the auto industry. As a contract manufacturer, it has produced some 2.5 million vehicles across 21 different models, including the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Aston Martin Rapide and Mini Countryman, to name just a few.
Joint venture Chery Quantum Auto – owned by China's Chery Automobile and Israel Corporation – will reportedly export three compact vehicles to Europe in 2012. Austrian supplier Magna Steyr will be tasked with developing the vehicles, according to Financial Times Deutschland.
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.
Magna tried and lost when Chrysler was for sale. Pulling a Marchionne, Magna's now trying to win GM Europe's Opel division for itself, and rumor is that Saturn is also on the shopping list. GM would get much-needed capital for the transactions, but it could also be facing its old properties as new competition. Of course, coughing up the money might be difficult, considering Magna's taken a shellacking so far this year.
As vehicles get more and more complex, auto suppliers will need everything in their arsenal to win major contracts from automakers. According to an article on Just-Auto (sub. req'd), by the year 2012, automotive suppliers will bear more than half of the total research and development of a given automobile. What this means for suppliers is that they need to stay at the forefront in environmental technologies. Increasingly complex systems will be necessary for automobiles to meet stringent emissio