Karl-Friedrich Stracke

Karl-Friedrich Stracke

Continuing just-auto's series of interviews with global component manufacturers, Matthew Beecham spoke to Karl-Friedrich Stracke, President Fahrzeugtechnik & Engineering of Magna Steyr about its smart factory, lightweighting and what makes a good acquisition target. Magna Steyr is a major engineering and manufacturing partner to automakers.

Could you tell us about some of the technologies that Magna Steyr is highlighting this year here at the Geneva show and your message?

We have a couple of key messages here. We are showing our 'smart factory' which explains how we see our production facility in the future and how we want to implement virtual reality from product engineering through to product. Our smart factory gives us an outlook of how we digitally develop the vehicle and production environment. From that digital perspective, we [can] very directly go for a real plant implementation in a very productive and efficient way.

Our objectives here at the show are therefore to launch products smarter, faster and reach peak volume quicker. And the timeline from the design to production is shortened and achieve that virtually. In other words, we want to start the plant design virtually before we [invest] in hardware.

Other key areas of interest are lightweighting, electrification and urbanisation. Those are the key topics that we are concentrating on in terms of engineering all the way through to manufacturing. Also looking ahead by five or six years to consider what type of business models we can drive down into our business.

What are you demonstrating about Magna Steyr's capabilities on the Lykan HyperSport supercar?

We are showing here that we are able of providing niche production as well as volume capabilities. With the Lykan, it is clearly just a niche where potentially there will be just ten cars built globally. But what we are showing is how we can engineer a car for a niche market and how we can produce it. We developed and produced the whole car, except the chassis and powertrain. That particular car also made it onto the big screen, appearing in Fast and Furious.

What impact will your contracts – such as the one we heard about recently to build vehicles for BMW AG - have on Magna Steyr's facilities in Graz?

We have four different brands in Graz with several products. Those products have launch dates staggered from March 2017 through December 2018. Those new products will bring us up to an annual capacity of between 200,000 to 210,000 vehicles in Graz. The contract manufacturing is being done in a unique way, using just one paint shop in Graz along with different body shops for each customer.

On a lightweighting theme, what do you see as the most promising applications for carbon fibre in vehicle manufacture?

We believe that carbon fibre is a very good material for sports cars. But I would be careful [of using it] cost-wise when it comes to higher-volume cars. I think that there is a limit at which you should apply different materials such as aluminium or high strength steel as [carbon fire] becomes too costly. So for niche markets, it is very good if you have very unique applications.

What makes a good acquisition target?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's Global vehicle lightweighting - technology, trends and the future

About Magna Steyr

Magna Steyr is a major engineering and manufacturing partner to automakers. The company offers OEMs solutions for a range of services with flexible development and assembly strategies. From individual systems like door modules to complete vehicles, and from extra-low volume through peak shaving to volume production.