DETROIT -- Magna International is capable of assembling the electric vehicle that Ford Motor unveiled at the Detroit auto show, the suppliers executives say.
If so, Magna will become, after years of trying, the first auto supplier in recent history to do final assembly on a contract basis for a North American automaker in North America.
In Europe, US automakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler use contract manufacturers to produce models sold in the region. For instance, coachbuilder Pininfarina makes the Ford Focus Coupe Cabriolet at its plant in Italy.
Magna executives say that Ford has not yet made a decision on where the electric car will be built.
It will depend on volume, said Magna co-CEO Don Walker. We need to get the vehicle to market and assess how many people will buy or lease it and final cost before it is determined whether it is assembled at Ford or on the outside.
Ford plans to build a zero-emissions battery-powered electric vehicle to go on sale in 2011.
Range of 160km
Ford says the car will be about the size of its US market Fusion sedan. It has an expected range as far as 160km on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries. The onboard battery charger will be capable of plugging into a 110- or 220-volt outlet. Charging time is expected to be 12 hours at 110 volts and half that at 220 volts.
Magna has sought for years to convince North American automakers that a supplier can build cars and trucks as well as they can.
The joint project with Ford gives Magna much of the vehicles powertrain, including battery pack and battery cells, traction motor, transmission and vehicle control units.
Magna does not manufacture lithium-ion batteries. It will assemble the battery pack using batteries from a supplier that has not been named.
The giant suppliers Magna Steyr operation in Graz, Austria, is developing lithium-ion batteries, however.
Ted Robertson, Magnas top technology officer, says the supplier has the capacity to build -- rather than buy -- up to 98 percent of the dozen systems and parts it was awarded.
Magna also will play a key role in the engineering required to integrate the electric propulsion system into the vehicles architecture, the company said in a statement.
Wins and losses
The award comes as some of Magna Steyrs long-term assembly contracts at its Austrian unit have run out or are about to do so. It lost the European-version Chrysler Voyager minivan in 2007 and Chrysler 300C car last year. BMW also will pull its X3 premium SUV from the plant and build it in the US.
On the win side, Magna Steyr won production contracts last year for an SUV version of the Mini, the Aston Martin Rapide and Peugeot 308 RC Z.
Contract production of Porsches Boxster and Cayman models will start in 2012.
Magna, of Aurora, Ontario, ranks No. 3 on the Automotive News Europe list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $25.65 billion in 2007.