We pulled over 10,000 pounds in an electric GMC Sierra during Magna Tech Week.

During an informative day at Magna International’s Technology Week, we arrived at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, to test drive some of the contract manufacturer’s electrified technologies. This included a GMC Sierra 2500 converted to a BEV with a Magna Etelligent Force 4WD powertrain. With that, we were able to test out the system’s 14,500-pound towing capacity and drive some other unique electric vehicles as well.

Magna International and its electrified technology

Even if you haven’t heard of Magna International, it’s a safe bet to drive a vehicle that contains only one contract component produced by the contract manufacturer. During a “Tech Week” event in Pontiac, Michigan, Magna CEO Swamy Kotagiri detailed some of the company’s production numbers.

In total, Magna has produced more than 3.7 million vehicles across thirty different models for ten different OEM customers including the likes of Ford, Rivian, GM and soon Fisker. In 2021 alone, Magna generated $36 billion in sales, cementing its title as the largest contract manufacturer in North America and the fourth largest in the world.

As the auto industry as a whole radically shifts toward electrified models, Magna has followed suit. By developing everything from electrified powertrains to battery enclosures and ADAS systems, Magna is providing many OEMs with the technology and components needed to use all-electric vehicles. Here is a quick summary of some of the electrifying technologies we’ve covered from Magna in the past:

Kotagiri speaks to the media during the “Magna Technology Week” event

Electrified Models Testing in Michigan Using Magna

After covering this electrifying technology from afar, Magna International was kind enough to invite us to the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, to try it out for yourself. This included the Magna eDS Low CE 3-in-1 eDrive front system, which is currently on Volkswagen ID.

What sets this electric motor apart is that it is manufactured without rare earth materials, making it more sustainable and cost-effective.

Behind that engine was a Tesla Model S equipped with the Magna EtelligentDrive system. The 3-in-1 eDrive system uses a motor in the front axle and two in the rear that are connected to a combination gearbox with clutch-based torque vectoring. The result is a 480 kW Tesla sedan built years before the Model S Plaid; It currently represents an early example of Magna’s electrified expertise.

One of the most popular BEVs available to drive during the Magna event was the Arcfox αT, an electrified model sold in China as part of a joint venture between Magna and Beijing Electric Vehicle Co. Ltd (BJEV).

I drove an FWD version around the M1 Concourse and was excited about the opportunity to drive a Chinese electric car, a market that I especially adore. The design itself was very European, and I thought it was a smooth drive all around. Nothing too flashy or luxurious, but nothing to make fun of, either. The overall performance quality was definitely evident.

The dual-wheel drive version of the αT comes with a battery capacity of 67.3 or 93.6 kWh, providing NEDC ranges between 525-708 km (326-440 miles). It can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph).

Pulling with Magna Etelligent Force

The electrified model most journalists were demanding to drive was the GMC Sierra equipped with Magna EtelligentForce technology. The Magna had two Sierras available to drive, so my first ride was in the electrified truck without the trailer to try out the same truck.

EtelligentForce is a four-wheel drive system that is integrated into the all-wheel drive system of passenger trucks and light commercial vehicles that electrifies the vehicle without compromising payload or towing.

The Magna eBeam is part of the system and can help OEMs electrify an existing ladder frame structure without having to start over with a ground platform. The eBeam also helps provide the 14,500-pound towing capacity, which was on display in the M1 during test drives.

Magna electrified
eBeam Magna Electric Rear Wheel Drive Applied to GMC Sierra 2500

While consumers will soon be able to purchase an all-electric GMC Sierra Denali pickup, we tested the towing technology early on with a GMC Sierra 2500 plug-in electric model with Magna’s EtelligentDrive powertrain swapped.

The electrified truck ran smoothly, offering regenerative braking while towing more than 10,000 pounds on a trailer behind it. Magna EtelligentDrive is available on Series 1 through 6 vehicles. Here’s the electrified GMC pickup in action:

Magna’s vision for the future of electric vehicle technology

After hearing from the company’s CEO, there’s plenty to be optimistic about Magna continuing to advance its arsenal of EV technology. eDrive components will appear in more and more electric vehicles from OEMs, including the Fisker Ocean which began production with Magna in Austria this fall. Additional vehicles include an unnamed OEM in China in 2023 (Magna is currently a manufacturer of NIO and XPeng, so it’s likely to be one of those two), and a US manufacturer in 2024.

Magna’s main focus in the future will be battery enclosures, which have already been developed and implemented in electric vehicles such as the Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer EV pickup. Magna’s CEO won’t say what future models will offer attachments, but the company is confident it will continue to work with the same automakers in the future.

Kotagiri explained that Magna’s manufacture of containers does not depend on materials and processing, which means that it can design and build EV battery enclosures to any customer’s specifications.

The best part is that every electric vehicle needs one, so Magna is in a lucrative position to supply the growing demand for these components. Kotagiri also shared that Magna is investing about $500 million to expand its battery container assembly lines over the next three years.

All in all, this was a great trip to Michigan to see a range of electric vehicle technologies – which we’ve covered for years – in action in real life. There’s a lot to be achieved at Magna, as the company continues to make money out of the fist with no signs of slowing down as it transitions to electrification.

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