Car News

Canada's Magna To Build BMW PHEVS, Explores Fuel Cells

BMW has announced Canadian auto parts supplier Magna will build the PHEV version of the Bavarian brand's 5 Series sedan at its Austrian factory, news that comes days after Magna itself revealed it has developed a hydrogen fuel cell range extender it says will make electric vehicles viable for longer-distance driving.

According to Reuters, the 530e PHEV variant of the 2018 BMW 5 Series goes into production this summer at Magna's Graz, Austria factory, which already builds some conventional 5 Series models and will add production of Jaguar's first all-electric model, the I-Pace crossover, early in 2018.

Magna's construction of two high-profile electrified vehicles is no fluke, as North America's largest automotive supplier is making a clear push into the electric vehicle space: last week, the company revealed it's looking for automakers interested in the hydrogen fuel cell range extender system for EVs it developed with German automaker Proton Motor.

Revealed at the Geneva auto show in March, Magna's fuel cell range-extended electric vehicle (FCREEV) was conceived to make battery electric cars viable as zero-emission long-distance drivers with a fuel cell stack that allows a 500 km driving range on a combination of electric power and hydrogen. Magna says the FCREEV could complete the 700 km drive from Vienna to Stuttgart in just 15 minutes longer than a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle, with one stop to replenish the hydrogen tank.

In addition, using BEV technology in tandem with hydrogen allows both systems to be downsized compared to a vehicle that used either one exclusively. And when hydrogen is unavailable, the FCREEV supports fast-charging for a battery that promises 50 km of driving range on its own; the FCREEV can also put the fuel cell to work charging the battery. Other potential markets for Magna's new tech include taxis and shuttle vehicles, which often can't afford the downtime required to charge a battery several times a day.