Magna produces lightweight, composite liftgates and active aerodynamic grille shutters in China

Innovations help lower emission and improve fuel economy for fast-growing market.


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Magna (Troy, Mich., U.S.) continues to grow its presence in China, as demonstrated by two recent grand opening celebrations. A new plant in Changsha, a joint venture with GAC Group (Guangzhou, Guangdong, China) subsidiary GAC Component Co. Ltd., began production of composite liftgates for a global automaker’s crossover vehicle in late 2018. This month, Magna’s plant in Shanghai started production on active aerodynamic grille shutters for an American brand producing multiple vehicle platforms for the China market.

“These facilities represent growing product segments for us: lightweight, composite liftgates and active aerodynamics,” says Magna Exteriors president Grahame Burrow. “Lightweight composites and active aerodynamics help our customers achieve lower CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy.”

Demand for lightweight, fully recyclable, composite liftgates is strong as the market for crossover and sport utility vehicles continues to grow globally. The liftgate modules reportedly achieve up to 25 percent mass savings over steel versions, leading to better fuel economy and lower emissions. Composite materials are said to allow for greater design flexibility with deeper draws and tighter radii. Magna claims that additional benefits its full-system assembly and delivery approach include reduced complexity of the total liftgate module, lower tooling investment and operating efficiency improvement in the automaker’s assembly plant.

Active aerodynamic components further address fuel efficiency and emissions needs by reducing vehicle drag. Magna says its active aerodynamic expertise has grown in recent years and boasts more than 10 million active grille shutter systems on the road. The company says additional products include active underbodies, active wheel deflectors and active rear diffusers, which reportedly can be applied across all vehicles from small cars to commercial trucks.

Magna has 55 manufacturing facilities and 13 engineering centers in China with more than 22,000 employees.