The 'Morphing Surfaces' technology will open up new avenues for automotive design.
Magna has released more information about its new Morphing Surfaces technology ahead of its debut at CES 2023, revealing how the technology works and showcasing it in action on a modified Ford Mustang Mach-E.
At present, active aero is limited to wings and vents or active grille shutters that open and close to aid cooling or reduce drag. But what if design elements of a car could be made to open and close at will, looking good and altering the aerodynamic efficiency of the car in different scenarios? With Magna's new tech, 'bendable' surfaces can be designed to blend in with the vehicle and open or close to optimize venting, cooling, or aerodynamics when desired. These panels are created from thermoplastics using advanced mechatronics to open and close.
We know the lengths that automakers are currently going to reduce drag on their EVs and extend range, the Hyundai Ioniq 6 being a great example, so we imagine many automakers will be interested.
Magna says that on a typical application, the technology could achieve up to a 10% reduction in drag resulting in up to a 5% range extension. This isn't that different from what current active aero can accomplish, but where it really shines is in design. Designers won't have to forgo looks for the sake of efficiency when the panels can blend in seamlessly like any other body panel on the car.
"Morphing Surfaces exemplifies the way Magna looks beyond today's offerings and imagines what is possible around future vehicle designs," said Grahame Burrow, Global President of Magna Exteriors.
"Magna is uniquely positioned to turn this vision into reality thanks to our extensive experience developing a suite of aerodynamic solutions and our systems approach to the integration of advanced technology into vehicles," he continues.
We get to see the Morphing Surfaces technology in action in a short video clip in which engineers wheel a Mustang Mach-E into a wind tunnel sporting the new tech integrated into its front bumper. The outer panels bend and arc out of the way, creating a path for air to flow through the wheel arches for brake cooling and aero optimization. Best of all, the thermoplastic panel retains a smooth curve, perfect for the aerodynamic flow of air.
Magna is running full force into the electric era, working on a plethora of futuristic and technologically advanced systems that will help other automakers and themselves produce all kinds of vehicles. Not too long ago, the company announced an incredible 48-volt hybrid dual-clutch transmission in partnership with Stellantis that will improve fuel economy and power, and earlier last year, it also announced a new advanced radar for the upcoming Fisker Ocean, which just started production at Magna's facility in Graz, Austria.
If things go according to plan, maybe we'll even see this new Morphing Surfaces technology on upcoming Fiskers like the recently teased Project Ronin Electric GT.
We'll see more of the Morphing Surfaces technology at CES 2023, where Magna will be present showcasing this and other technological marvels.