Magna International to Lead Automotive Manufacturing Industry


Bao Nguyen Profile, Magna International

Bao Nguyen Profile, Magna International

Magna International to Lead Automotive Manufacturing Industry

Magna is considered as a leading $36 billion global automotive supplier that designs, develops and manufactures components and a system for the world’s leading auto makers, with 317 manufacturing operations and 102 product development, engineering and sales centres in 29 countries. Magna employed over 155,000 personnel focused on delivering superior value to customers through innovative products and processes, and world class manufacturing. Over years of leading the automotive industry, Magna has established a complete vehicle engineering and contract manufacturing expertise, as well as product capabilities which include body, chassis, exterior, seating, powertrain, active driver assistance, vision, closure and roof systems and have electronic and software capabilities across many of these areas.

On financial and investment view, Magna common shares are being traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (MG) and the New York Stock Exchange (MGA).

Donald Walker as Magna Chief Executive Officer

Don Walker was born in August, 1956, as a Canadian native.

Donald Walker was entitled Chief Executive Officer on September 13, 2010. Walker joined Magna in 1987. Before joining Magna he spent seven years at General Motors in various engineering and manufacturing positions, including involvement in a new vehicle launch and new assembly plant.
Throughout his career, Walker has been honoured with several notable recognitions. A few recent examples include being named Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year in 2014, selected to Fortune magazine’s Global Business Person of the Year list in 2015, and featured on Financial Post Magazine’s first annual Power List in 2016. Most recently, Walker was named #25 on Motor Trend magazine’s Power List 2017 and named in Toronto Star’s Top Five Newsmakers to watch in 2017.

The Entrepreneurial Pathway

Magna entrepreneurship and innovation

It’s about developing ideas from inside and outside of our organization and then bringing them to life. It’s about creating technology that is smarter, cleaner, safer, and lighter. Magna innovation aims for the automotive industry, our communities, and all who share the road.

The automotive industry is rapidly changing and Magna expects the next decade and beyond to bring an enormous amount of change driven by technological advances. Magna’s in-depth systems expertise across the broad capabilities gives the company holistic vehicle knowledge, and Magna electronics know-how and flexible operating structure allow the company to quickly adapt. This point differentiates Magna from their competition. Magna as an organization and the management team as the core personnel have a clear understanding of the global trends and how they impact automotive, and Magna is utilizing that foresight to engineer future systems.

World class manufacturing is a journey, not a destination. At Magna, innovation means commercialized invention. The company keeps developing game-changing technologies and transform the latest materials and processes into industry standards.

Donald Walker’s discovery of entrepreneurship

Walker stated that, “From a CEO’s perspective, it is a given that you have to have the right technology, the right product strategy and the right structure but the biggest challenge is finding the best people. Once you have got them (you have to) motivate them and keep them in the company.”

Being enlisted as Canada’s CEO of the Year in 2015, Walker says he is particularly proud of a strategic approach he has implemented towards problem solving, being providing clear direction on accomplishing goals. This can range from product strategy, customer strategy, geographic strategy, and new technologies.

Regarding the product strategy and manufacturing perspective, an area Magna focus on a lot is innovation and Magna would define that as new products an end consumer would see in the car. Secondly, Magna is certainly dedicated on research and development, involving top techno universities, working with start-up enterprises on technology. The third point in manufacturing is worldwide people development systems. Magna has 130,000 people and it is just a system to keep track how Magna can train them and retain them to stay in the company.

With this in mind the top priority for the year ahead is identifying products Magna can develop and bring to market which would solve existing problems their customers, car companies, are confronting every day, such as maintaining efficiency and minimizing CO2 emissions, and improving fuel economy.
Regarding the customer strategy, Walker drives Magna to the next level of commitment, that is to maintain Magna entrepreneurial heritage through support of decision making at an operational level. Those decisions are always guided by coordinated strategies and processes that support Magna competitive position in the marketplace. The automotive industry is one of the most complex industries in the world. Magna customers produce diverse line-ups of innovative, award-winning vehicles using some of the most advanced technologies and manufacturing processes. In Walker vision, Magna values customers and are committed to not only delivering them innovative, high-quality products, but also works closely with customers to solve problems, identify new materials and processes, and provide unique solutions to industry challenges.

Closing the topic on his innovation strategy at Magna International, Walker added that, the principal opportunities would concentrate in the search for new products that benefit the industry for a longer term, for other expertise areas, which can be outside the automotive industry. This search can expand into renewable energy or similar fields to utilize the existing advantages Magna is holding.

Details of Magna’s Innovation

Magna being smarter, cleaner, safer, and lighter

Magna main objectives are the generation of ideas and their realisation according to Magna Steyr´s strategic goals. This also means to motivate and encourage Magna employees to develop new ideas. Magna clearly focus on a successful transformation of ideas into practical applications, R&D-projects and finally innovations. The six focal points of Magna’s innovation are listed below.

MILA Family, which stands for Magna Steyr’s innovation and technology brand, combines new vehicle concepts with attractive design and technological solutions to provide superior driving pleasure. Different markets with different requirements drive the technological development. New drive strategies are developed, and new ideas introduced at system and module level.

Alternative Propulsion and Energy Storage System. Magna’s breakthrough in this field concentrates on projects that aim to make individual mobility more eco-friendly. The focus is on technologies that enable fossil fuels to be used more economically and fuel consumption to be reduced.
Hybrid vehicles have potential for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, while increasing performance and comfort, particularly in combination with downsizing concepts. In the future, alternative systems will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels or even replace them altogether.

Magna Steyr’s drivable demonstrator, the FCREEV, shows how very long ranges can be achieved at zero emissions. The drive concept using a fuel-cell range-extender can be built into any vehicle. A compact-size car, for example, can cover 90 km in purely electric mode and 500 km in combined hybrid operation without recharging or refuelling – and without using fossil fuels. Magna Steyr built this drivable technology demonstrator as battery-driven electric vehicle with fuel-cell range-extender and all-wheel drive.

Lightweight Pressure Cylinder CNG from Magna Steyr covers the full range of competences for the development and production of natural gas-driven vehicles, from the development and production of state-of-the-art lightweight pressure cylinders and the development and production of complete CNG (compressed natural gas) tank modules to the integration of complete CNG systems in vehicles.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. The complex and dynamic nature of vehicle mechatronic systems requires a high level of competence in systems networking and specification of interfaces to the mechanical world. Magna Steyr is working on future functional and electric architectures.

Lightweight Technologies. Higher demands in terms of safety and comfort, combined with the additional weight of electrified drivetrains, have resulted in a constant increase of the vehicle weight. Reversing the weight spiral is a key demand in the automotive industry since reduction of vehicle mass is one of the most important levers to meet the ambitious emission limits set by the industry itself and by the legislators. But Magna can only respond by reducing weight in the drivetrain and chassis if lightweight design is consistently applied to the vehicle architecture and combined with a lightweight body concept as the foundation of an optimized overall solution.

Smart Factory by Magna Steyr. Magna Steyr is already working on the intelligent factory of the future – the Smart Factory. Virtually mapping the entire product and production lifecycle – from vehicle engineering to the implementation on the production line – and integrating all data in a dense network creates an intelligent production system that adapts quickly, accurately and flexibly to individual or changing requirements. Tomorrow’s intelligent production will be based on the Smart Factory where man, machine, products and resources communicate with each other by exchanging data in real time. Magna Steyr will thus further increase the efficiency and economy of production while satisfying the constantly increasing demand to manufacture customized products.

Innovation Management. Magna is empowering their employees and partnering with customers, start-ups, and universities to generate innovative ideas and bring them to market. The main objectives are the generation of ideas and their realisation according to Magna Steyr´s strategic goals. This also means to motivate and encourage Magna employees to develop new ideas. Magna clearly focus on a successful transformation of ideas into practical applications, R&D-projects and finally innovations.

Patents and other property rights are an important factor to be considered for every innovation. In a separate sub-process, the patent risk and chances analysis (PRCA), Magna therefore examine every project with regard to property rights.


Magna as an organization is always prepared to discuss newly found inventions with engineers, scientists, researchers, students, and check their feasibility in the company.

Through leadership and a commitment to innovation, Magna continues lead the automotive industry. Reasons lay in four following points, which is also the lesson list for entrepreneurs to consider. First and foremost, Magna is best positioned to respond to automotive shifts due to our breadth of technology expertise and business agility. Secondly, the entire organization is experienced in areas that will define the future of transportation, including safety, electrification, autonomy, new mobility and connectivity. Third point is, Magna is recognized as a world-class manufacturer with a global footprint and expertise to meet customer needs.

Donald Walker as the CEO leads Magna through his expansive vision of growing the business in five principal product areas: Demand for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, powertrain expertise, lightweight solutions, EZ-Entry mechanism solutions, and Magna’s complete vehicle assembly capability.

There are three factors that Magna executives should deliberate in order to sustain the innovative organization they constructed together: intellectual property institutions, the sources of new ideas, and financing innovation. Literature on intellectual property is concerned with how to encourage inventors and protect their new technological developments from imitation; while the second factor concerns with search for plentiful and sustainable sources of ideas, inventions, and innovation. Final factor finds the equilibrium between investment and profitability, which also means the safety line for both the corporate benefits and scientific / researchers’ demands.


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