ST. THOMAS, Ontario - Today, Magna International Inc. supplies complete frames for General Motors' full-sized pickups. Tomorrow, Magna wants to supply automakers with a hydroformed rolling chassis complete with the suspension, electrical and powertrain equipment already installed.
Dana Corp. already supplies rolling chassis for DaimlerChrysler AG's Brazilian-built pickups. Fred Jaekel, CEO of Cosma International Inc., Magna's metalforming subsidiary, thinks the idea can go much further.
'If you have control of more of what goes on the chassis, you can lighten the structure more by using bolt-ons as part of the chassis,' he said. An example is a Formula One race car, which uses its engine as an integral part of the chassis.
Jaekel thinks this idea can apply to truck frames.
'You can use the rear end of the chassis as part of the exhaust, or you can have a cooling assembly that is part of the front end of the assembly.'
Another place for hydroforming could be in space frames. Jaekel said Magna will have a prototype hydroformed steel space frame to show automakers by the end of this year.