FRANKFURT Oct 7 Magna International Inc
MGa.TO received a prestigious order from Daimler (DAIGn.DE),
its fifth biggest customer, in a sign of faith that it would
not pull business from the auto parts supplier despite the
Canadian company's planned Opel deal.
Magna said on Wednesday that its Steyr unit based in
Austria's Graz -- where the rugged Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV is
built -- would develop and build the aluminum bodies for the
upcoming Mercedes SLS AMG gullwing.
"We can be proud that we are the only supplier in Europe
able to manufacture a body made only out of aluminum -- that
underlines once more our leading position in challenging and
innovative technologies," Magna Co-Chief Executive Siegfried
Wolf said in a statement.
Aluminum is about a third lighter than steel while offering
extreme rigidity, but it is also a more complicated material to
use in cars than steel due to varying metallic properties. This
requires different production methods for tooling, stamping,
welding and painting.
The hotly anticipated super sports car that hits markets
early next year is fitted with two doors that swing upwards for
entry, resembling wings. This hallmark design became legendary
in the 1950s when Mercedes launched the 300 SL sports coupe
widely believed to be one of the most beautiful cars ever
Ever since the board of General Motors [GM.UL] approved a
sale of a 55 percent stake in its European unit to a consortium
around Magna last month, rival carmakers like Volkswagen
(VOWG.DE) and BMW (BMWG.DE) have threatened to withdraw
business from the supplier, since the Opel deal would make it a
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told reporters during the
Frankfurt auto show that he was not concerned, however.
"Magna has stated and confirmed again and again that they
would have two totally separate organisations with Chinese
walls. When you go to a bank, you have to rely on those Chinese
walls as well.
"So if that is a smart step that Magna is taking is one
question; does it prevent us from continuing our good business
relationship with Magna, the supplier? Clearly no -- so I have
no problem from that perspective with their decision."
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing Bernard Orr)