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Magna’s New CEO Discusses the Future of Mobility

February 10, 2021

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Detroit Economic Club (DEC) hosted Magna International Inc.’s new Chief Executive Officer, Seetarama (Swamy) Kotagiri, to discuss electrification, autonomous driving, and how the auto industry operated during the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 169,000 employees and operations across 28 countries, Magna is one of the world’s largest mobility technology suppliers and one of the largest companies based in Canada. DEC President and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Grigorian welcomed Kotagiri and then began the conversation by discussing Magna’s approach to electrification

The Future is Electric

Kotagiri outlined why electrification is vital to Magna from a business and societal perspective. “The societal goal of making the planet a better and more livable place is driving electrification,” said Kotagiri. “It is not a matter of if, but when for our industry. The move towards electrification is accelerating.”

Magna’s strategic electrification has matched the industry’s acceleration. Over the past twelve months Magna has partnered with LG to manufacture e-motors, inverters, and onboard chargers. Furthermore, Magna’s e4 technology demonstration car represents their strong commitment to being a leader in decreasing CO2 emissions through electrification.

The Future is Autonomous

In addition to sharing his vision on the near-term electric-vehicle transition, Kotagiri also discussed the place that autonomous driving technology has in the industry’s long-term future. Prior to becoming CEO of Magna, Kotagiri was the company’s chief technology officer (CTO). Consequently, he has committed to further strengthening Magna’s innovation culture by forming partnerships in areas including autonomy, electrification, electronics, and connectivity. Kotagiri was quick to point out that while full-autonomy is still some way off for every vehicle, there are many opportunities for iterative gains that make driving safer and more enjoyable.

A Culture of Safety

Kotagiri concluded his remarks to the DEC by reflecting on how Magna has focused on employer safety and health over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The automotive industry has been at the forefront of returning-to-work safely, and Magna has been a leader in those efforts. Swamy emphasized that employee safety and health are part of their commitment to fostering a people-centric culture. The last twelve months have been incredibly tumultuous for the auto industry, suppliers, and Magna. However, there is a clear pathway forward for recovery and long-term transformation.