Magna deepens role in Fisker electric vehicle project with driver assistance deal

TORONTO — Magna International Inc. is deepening ties with electric vehicle maker Fisker.

Magna said Monday it had signed on to help Fisker build a driver assistance system for its electric sport utility vehicle.

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The driver assistance technology for Fisker will include cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and a digital imaging radar system that is a first for the automotive industry, Magna said.

The deal comes after Magna announced last October it would be the exclusive manufacturer of the Fisker Ocean SUV in Europe. The vehicle uses Magna’s electric vehicle platform as a "starting point" which Fisker will customize to work with its in-house powertrain design.

The Aurora, Ont.-based auto parts company said its deal with Fisker is a win for its expanding electric vehicle business. Swamy Kotagiri, who made the Fisker announcement on his first day as CEO of Magna, said he is pushing the company into new lines of business as the auto industry becomes "increasingly high-tech."

Magna's push into electric vehicles comes as other automakers, such as Ford and Fiat Chrysler, are expanding their electric vehicle manufacturing in Canada.

When asked in November whether Magna could pick up more business for electric pickup trucks from traditional automakers like General Motors, Kotagiri said Magna is in a good position to make the "building blocks" for these types of vehicles.

"One of our strategic goals is to pursue new business in areas where Magna’s unique strengths can be deployed with an advantage compared to our peers," Kotagiri said Monday when announcing the Fisker driver assistance deal.

Late last month, Fisker said there were about 10,400 paid reservations outstanding for the Ocean, which is scheduled to start production in late 2022.

Fisker has said it hopes to compete with the big brands by pricing its SUV under US$40,000, and that both Fisker and Magna engineers have been working to get a prototype done by this summer.

Fisker chief executive Henrik Fisker said the project with Magna is "mission-critical for the whole program." Kotagiri, meanwhile, touted that Magna's involvement means Fisker is gaining "cost efficiency" and is "delivering additional benefits to the industry overall."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:MG)

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