Magna's electronics division produces 12 million cameras annually. Anticipating more growth, the company last week opened a $50 million factory here dedicated to producing cameras and driver-assistance components for a dozen customers.
More than 600 employees will work in the 230,000-square-foot plant about 60 miles northwest of Detroit, where work from three other nearby factories will be consolidated. Once the new plant is fully operational — expected in October 2020 — components will ship to more than 300 global locations.
The camera ramp-up comes as dramatic growth is projected for advanced driver-assistance systems.
A report this year by Adroit Market Research valued the global ADAS market at $16.35 billion in 2018; the consulting firm projects that will grow to more than $81 billion annually by 2025.
Among the sensors that enable driver-assistance features, "the camera is going to be paramount in the vehicle," said Swamy Kotagiri, chief technology officer at Magna. "You'll have other sensors playing important roles, but the camera is absolutely necessary for assisted driving."
If a fixture now, its beginnings were humble. Magna's initial production lines for rearview cameras supplied GM for its Hummer SUVs. At the time, rearview visibility requirements had not been set by federal regulators or enacted by Congress. But Kotagiri said that even then, he could see the increasing importance of cameras on the horizon. By the time NHTSA codified rear-visibility requirements for new vehicles in the 2018 model year, he said, most vehicles on the road already met the standard.
In a similar way, he foresees regulation fostering the burgeoning driver-assistance market, especially with the European New Car Assessment Program formulating plans for new standards.
"You are starting to look at automated emergency braking and pedestrian-related features, cross-traffic alerts," Kotagiri told Automotive News. "When the insurance or regulatory institutes start looking at these features, it's as good as regulation. So I think I see the same road map we saw with rearview visibility."