Johann Ecker, president, Magna Steyr roof systems.

Johann Ecker, president, Magna Steyr roof systems.

Magna International's roof systems business falls under the auspices of Magna Steyr.  Continuing just-auto's interviews with global manufacturers of roof systems, Matthew Beecham talked with Johann Ecker, president, Magna Steyr roof systems.

Is there a premium that OEMs will pay for weight reduction?

In general there is no premium for weight reduction.  Instead OEMs define a weight target for the roof system that has to be attained. However, some OEMs do have premiums granted for further weight reductions and for coming in under the weight target.

Future sunroof development is under the same cost pressure as the rest of the industry. I guess the time for sophisticated and costly developments for niche products is over. Modularity on all levels seems to be the answer. How do you see it?

Roof systems have to follow the modularity approach. Sliding folding roofs, for example, are expected to be designed for more than one vehicle without any changes or with small changes only. We therefore implemented the modular design principle for soft tops and sliding folding roofs, which allows for designing roof components that can be used in different roof systems.

We are seeing a trend towards roof modules with integrated opening systems (multi-panel, etc) because the modular technology supports the trend towards top-loading assembly processes on the car manufacturer's assembly line. I guess this provides potential for utilisation of various roof options on one body interface. What's your view?

Utilising various roof options for one body interface can be beneficial for the customer, the end consumer and for us, the roof system supplier. The application of our modular design principle allows the OEM to offer a larger number of different roof options to the end consumer. As a lot of carryover parts are used, development and production of different roof options becomes easier, but in general the different roofs have to fulfil the special needs of the customer, especially the design requirements.

Sunroofs are becoming an increasingly important styling element in passenger cars. Also the future development will have to cope with the platform approach of the OEMs, i.e. provide modular solutions that can cover a whole range of vehicles with one basic concept. How do you manage that?

Our modular design principle allows shorter engineering times, reduced cost and improved quality. For example, we have developed a textile folding roof that can fit on a variety of different vehicles. With our approach less specific components are used and the product complexity is reduced, which helps us remain very flexible in supporting the OEMs' platform strategies.

Over the past few years, we've seen the emergence of two-, three- and four-part retractable hardtops. Could this trend render the coupé obsolete?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's QUBE research service