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Energy & Motion Control Technology: The People and the Product

A year ago, I scribbled “Think Big” at the top of my strategy document for our new Energy & Motion Control software platform, an exciting breakthrough that can increase an EV’s range by up to 90 miles, reduce emissions by 13-38%, improve safety, and enhance driving performance. The modular and scalable software platform for EVs debuts in September at IAA Mobility 2023.

Flagging the Magna Core Value was a reminder of how the 30-40 team members on this project approach every Car of the Future challenge. The lessons we’ve learned on this journey always come back to our values and our entrepreneurial spirit.

What enables us to think big is a global network and a diverse organization that yields innovation and smarter teams.

"Our entrepreneurial-minded team is committed to turning possibilities into reality, as we transform the way the car of the future moves and interacts with the world around them."

 

Megan Walker - headshot

The People

The project, internally called Magna Operating Strategy, started in 2020 with a sharp focus on end-customer centric use cases, innovation, collaboration, respect for colleagues’ contributions and openness to new ideas. We realized our work on software-defined vehicles will bridge different groups within Magna and help transform our product portfolio.

Team members are drawn from different disciplines, and include software and systems engineers, program and product managers, and experts from concept-vehicle engineering and pure software engineering.

Although the team is geographically dispersed, hailing from Lannach, Austria; Untergruppenbach and Cologne, Germany; Troy, Michigan, and Shanghai, China, we are able to effectively bridge the distance. Local expertise gives us a competitive advantage and brings a wide range of perspectives.

Meetings were mostly virtual, due to the pandemic, with a yearly face-to-face gathering in places like Styria, Austria, where we would review our achievements, gather for meals, good Austrian wine and walk or jog together in the mornings.

I’m an industrial engineer, grown up and studied in the north of Germany. My inspiration for Vehicle motion control started in my youth when watching the world rally championships in the 1990s. I spent hours watching the stars on TV as they flew over the gravel roads in their 2WD and AWD ICE-based rally cars. I’ve followed in the footsteps of my father Carl, an automotive engineer who would bring test vehicles home over the weekend when I was growing up. He sometimes had to log up to 1,500 kilometers over the weekend on the test cars. When I was 18, he handed me the keys to a Mercedes-Benz S500 sedan to help him out.

I learned an important lesson in creating trusting relationships that day, an essential leadership value that motivates me and my team. When you trust others, what unfolds can be amazing. Case in point: Energy & Motion Control. The marketing people picked the perfect name: energy comes first because that defines the future and motion is our heritage.

The Technology

The new Magna platform for application software for future EVs is a great example of how we leverage our competencies to develop highly integrated systems and fuse our expertise in different domains, including powertrain, ADAS, and connectivity for the software-defined vehicle.

Energy & Motion Control links with our powertrain solutions and covers a range of functions, from longitudinal and lateral torque vectoring including active sideslip limitation and decoupling strategies to predictive features such as friction estimation and vehicle energy demand based on route information.

We like to say it makes every driver a better driver by providing greater stability for critical driving maneuvers, as well as improved cornering speed and clearly reduced steering wheel effort due to better advanced torque distribution and management per wheel. In fact, one of our customers described it as an invisible hand holding the vehicle on the trajectory and steering the vehicle in the right direction.

Lessons Learned

The Magna Core Value I would pencil in at the top of that strategy page today is “Never Settle.” With Energy & Motion Control, we are in the midst of our first real-world applications, but we are striving for bigger and better opportunities.

Our entrepreneurial-minded team is committed to turning possibilities into reality, as we transform the way the car of the future moves and interacts with the world around them.

We’re excited to leverage our expertise in electrification and autonomy to develop new mobility business opportunities. It’s something we’ve done at Magna for 65+ years. We understand the customer. Energy & Motion Control will help us to go forward and become yet another Magna solution that captivates our customers.

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