Magna International, known as the number one auto-parts company in Canada, is widening its horizons and extending its business to include e-bikes.
This venture by Magna may be helping Canada in becoming a major competitor in the “bionic bikes” industry, but critics are saying that it also has the potential of becoming another financial failure, much like the doomed Magna Entertainment horse-racing project that cost the company millions of dollars in capital.
Even company CEO Frank Stronach may have lost some sleep over this new endeavor, but not his right-hand man, Manfred Gingl, who actually resigned from his position as vice-chairman and company director just so he could head up the new Magna Marque e-bike division.
Manfred Gingl has all the confidence in the world that e-bikes will be big in Canada, since he has already sunk $2 million of his own money into the venture. Even his boss, Stronach, stopped doubting Gingl’s move after that.
Gingl explains that his plans revolve around a unique drive system that Magna International had acquired from a Quebec technmology company. The detachable drive system synchronizes the e-bike’s motor and battery, allowing for a smoother operation in accordance with the cyclist’s own pedal power.
Magna Marque has launched its BionX System back in 2008, a package that can turn almost any bicycle out there into a spanking new e-bike. The system, which includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, a motor, and a computerized handlebar console, sells for around $1,200 to $1,700.
The sales estimates point to 50,000 units sold last year, and Gingl is confident that they will be able to sell twice that amount for 2010. Magna Marque has also signed a partnership with bike manufacturer Trek USA for targeting a North American market.