Magna Steyr, the Austrian contract vehicle manufacturer, sees a big opportunity cracking open to finally expand its business model to North America.
Automakers large and small are hot to put new EV models on the U.S. market. The problem for many of them is the EV tax credit rules laid down last year by the U.S. government. Among other things, the Inflation Reduction Act stipulates that for a vehicle to qualify for the federal $7,500 tax credit, it must be assembled in North America.
And therein lies Magna Steyr's opportunity to set up auto assembly operations in the U.S.
Magna Steyr's interest is nothing new. For years, leaders at its corporate parent, the diversified Canadian parts supplier, Magna International, have been open about wanting to expand the company's production-for-hire footprint beyond the plant in Graz, Austria, and, more recently, a joint venture in China with BAIC Group. Speculation has simmered about whether it might build a vehicle for Apple if the tech giant takes a plunge into car design.
But the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the rapidly growing market for EVs have breathed new life into Magna Steyr's North American hopes, said Roland Prettner, the business unit's interim president.
"We're working with a number of customers on ideas to help them in North America," Prettner said. "We have a team looking at selecting sites, looking at options, working on layouts and offering different solutions for customers on how we can help them manufacture a vehicle in North America."
Prettner said the company is exploring potential areas in various regions of the country but declined to name specific locations. He said Magna Steyr would want a new assembly plant to be an environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art facility.
"I believe when it comes to complete vehicles that you should build them where you sell them," Prettner said. "The U.S. is a big market, and it will need some companies like us to produce new electric vehicles."