Magna International's $1.9 billion deal last week to buy German gearbox supplier Getrag gives the giant Canadian company the technology to supply transmissions for small cars to big vans and nearly everything in between.
In fact, the deal, expected to close by the end of the year, will make Toronto-based Magna a major transmission competitor to ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Japan's Aisin AW Co. and several other smaller transmission suppliers.
Privately owned Getrag, with 2013 revenue of $3.6 billion, produces at least 22 transmissions used globally in vehicles from the Mini Cooper to Ford's Transit cargo van.
Getrag makes wet and dry dual-clutch automatics and five- and six-speed manual transmissions. Also, it has strong operations in China.
Getrag also has developed a pair of two-speed transmissions designed for range-extended gasoline-electric hybrids. A range-extended car uses an electric motor to drive the wheels, with the electricity coming from a generator powered by a small gasoline engine. The Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 are range-extended cars. Getrag's hybrid transmissions, called Extended Drive, are not in production.
There also is potential to pair Getrag's transmissions with Magna's all-wheel-drive systems, allowing Magna to deliver a vehicle's propulsion system except the engine.
Industry analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific believes Getrag's hybrid transmissions and other technology for electrified vehicles were the big draw. "This is a long-term strategy," he said of the deal.
Automakers have been rolling out a broad array of transmissions in an effort to boost fuel economy to meet tightening global regulations. Dual-clutch, continuously variable and automatic transmissions with more than six speeds all are now available in mainstream vehicles.
Magna, which derives much of its revenue from body, chassis, powertrain, interior and electronic components, ranked second in 2014 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers, with 2013 revenue of $36.33 billion.