World Cars

Canadian auto-parts company Magna shows the way toward the modular car industry of the future

When it was unveiled at auto shows in 1988, the Magna Torrero's hybrid design turned heads in auto-company boardrooms from Detroit to Tokyo. But it never got a chance to tear up pavement like a Lotus Elise. Instead, parts of the Canadian company's prototype car are quietly helping Ford Contours, Volkswagen Golfs and Audi A8s roll comfortably down driveways around the world. "People keep asking us when Magna is going to manufacture our own car," company spokesman Paul Pivato says, "and the answer is never. We are not a carmaker."

Instead, Magna is something called a systems supplier. With more than...

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