TORONTO — Magna International Inc. is scaling back its partnership with Lyft Inc. to co-develop self-driving technology as it focuses research and development spending on more near-term prospects.
It was only about two years ago that the Aurora, Ont.,-based auto parts giant struck an ambitious partnership with ride-hailing firm Lyft to develop and manufacture self-driving systems at scale.
The partnership was proposed as a way to merge Magna’s automotive expertise with Lyft’s data-gathering and real-world testing to roll out technology that they said was expected to be market-ready over the “next few years” as self-driving ambitions in the industry grew.
Magna now sees fully self-driving systems as a longer-term, expensive prospect and will shift focus to driver-assist systems with more reasonable timelines, said company CEO Don Walker.
“I do think that the market has become more realistic about how fast the various technologies will penetrate,” said Walker on a conference call.
He said the industry and society are still in the early stages of what will be unprecedented changes in mobility.
Swamy Kotagiri, who was promoted to company president Thursday, said Magna would continue to work with Lyft on some aspects of software and hardware, but that it has many capabilities in-house.
“There is a renewed focus both in the market and the industry as well as from our side in terms of the take rates for the assisted driving portion of it. And we have significant programs, and we see a possible ability to address a lot of that market.”
Kotagiri will also continue to oversee Magna’s power and vision business, as well as its corporate research and development programs and related investments.
He said the sensor requirements for the higher levels of autonomy, which don’t require the driver to always be at least ready to take the wheel, are significantly different to the lower levels that it’s focused on.
Magna said it will focus more on near-term programs like its front and rear cameras and some surround view systems, as well as advanced radar systems.
The company said that overall, it would also continue to work on lightweighting and electrification programs as emission regulations, especially in Europe, push automakers to sell more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Magna said in its outlook that it expects 2020 sales to come in between US$38 billion and US$40 billion this year. It said it expects sales to be negatively impacted by a stronger U.S. dollar, the sale of its fluid pressure and controls business and lower expected light vehicle production in Europe.
Looking out to 2022, the company expects sales to rise to between US$40.5 billion and US$43.5 billion.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2020.
Companies in this story: (TSX:MG)
Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press