Magna Steyr offers a flexible green-car platform

Auto parts manufacturer Magna Steyr designs an automotive platform called Mila that lets carmakers choose between an electric and hybrid car, then slap on a body shell and badges.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read

Magna Steyr, a maker of automotive parts, is showing that it can build entire cars.

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.

Magna Steyr battery module
Magna Steyr's battery module contains its own load-balancing software. CNET

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.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.