When a big player such as Canada’s Magna International starts spending, there is opportunity afoot. Magna CEO Don Walker told shareholders this month that the company is stepping up its R&D spending this year, adding an extra $100 million (all figures USD) to help develop technologies. Next year, he added, another $100 million will be allocated, and another $100 million in 2020 — $300 million in all.
Magna’s project list is getting longer as it moves deeper into electrification and autonomous vehicles, for which the extra $300 million is earmarked. Separately, in March, it bought a $200 million equity stake in the ride-hailing business Lyft and launched a partnership to create the autonomous drive system that will control future Lyft vehicles.
A supplier developing a customer’s vehicle drive system is significant in the auto industry. Startup mobility companies Uber, Waymo and Lyft have been in talks with automakers for vehicles, including Ford Motor Co., and suppliers such as Bosch and Delphi are creating advanced technologies and the software platforms to control vehicles.
Magna will be creating the integrated systems that will allow future Lyft vehicles to drive autonomously.
Speaking this month to analysts, Walker said the Lyft partnership “demonstrates how Magna is uniquely positioned for new mobility relative to our peers, due to our deep systems knowledge across many product lines, our leadership position in vision-based [advanced driver-assistance systems], our proven ability to auto-qualify new technologies, and lastly, the fact that we’re the only part supplier with complete vehicle design, engineering and assembly capabilities.” Read more