Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Magna Steyr offers a flexible green-car platform

With a concept car, on display at the Geneva auto show, the company is aiming to illustrate what it can offer to carmakers through its Mila automotive platform: Magna Steyr would build the car's innards, then the carmaker would slap on a body shell and badges.

Mila is designed as a flexible platform for the manufacturing of either electric cars or hybrids, allowing automakers to market their own green cars without having to do years of costly research.

With its 67-horsepower electric motor and 10-kilowatt battery pack, Mila-based cars have an electric range of only 32 miles, and accelerating to 62 mph takes a whopping 17 seconds. With a gas engine added to work as a generator, Magna Steyr says the Mila will go 174 miles.

The Mila's hybrid system can drive the car either under electric power only; as a series hybrid, where the gas engine recharges the batteries; or as a parallel hybrid, with the gas engine sends power directly to the wheel for speeds of more than 44 mph.

At least one component of Mila should prove attractive to automakers: the battery. Magna Steyr has designed a lithium ion battery module with built-in software for load balancing and power control. The modules can be combined into a battery pack and will work seamlessly together, providing electricity for the vehicle without overheating or overusing a single module.

Although it hasn't licensed the Mila platform specifically, Ford has already signed a deal with Magna Steyr to provide its electric power train for a vehicle to be launched in the United States in 2011. The deal specifies a small car powered by a single electric motor, with a single-speed transmission. Range will be approximately 100 miles.


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