Auto parts giant Magna quietly enters e-bike market

Hamilton%2C%20Tyler45X64.jpgPosted by Tyler Hamilton
Nearly two years ago Magna Marque, a subsidiary of Magna International, quietly acquired a small company in Quebec called EPS Energy Propulsion Systems Inc., maker of the BionX e-bike kit. Manfred Gingl, founder and president of Magna Marque and former CEO of parent company Magna International, had a personal interest in bicycle technology and realized the market for e-bikes would be huge. Today, I have a story in the Toronto Star that for the first time gives readers an inside look at what Magna is up to and how it plans to be a leading supplier of electric propulsion systems for bicycles and other mobile products, from paddle boats to three-wheeled urban vehicles. The company, quite simply, wants to be the Shimano of e-bikes. It already has supply agreements with Trek and is in serious talks with other bicycle manufacturers.
Aurora, Ont.-based Magna, of course, isn’t doing very well with its traditional business. It saw sales plummet 45 per cent in its most recent quarter, reported yesterday, and swung to a $205 million loss. The company, however, is gradually positioning itself as a leading supplier of drive trains and other components for the emerging electric car market, and has a partnership with Ford and other players to follow through with that vision. But Gingl’s view is that the e-bike opportunity will come faster than the electric car market, and the two nicely complement each other. Magna Marque can leverage battery and motor development taking place for the electric-car side of Magna’s business, giving it an edge over other competitors in the e-bike market.
The BionX system itself is, in my own view, quite impressive. I currently have a demo bike at home and enjoy the ride immensely. It takes some getting used to — i.e. the electric boost it sometimes provides, depending on your speed, can cause a mild jolt like a car going into passing gear. It might bother some people, but I actually like it. Click here to read more of Tyler's post.

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