Canadian Plastics

Magna wins 2020 PACE Award for composite space frame liftgate reinforcement

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Said to be the first application of composite space frame for an automotive liftgate, the lightweight solution debuted on the 2020 Toyota Supra.

Magna’s PACE Award-winning space frame liftgate reinforcement is manufactured at its facility in Liberec, Czech Republic. Photo Credit: Magna International Inc.

A composite space frame liftgate reinforcement solution manufactured by Magna International Inc., and which debuted on the Toyota Supra, has earned a 2020 Automotive News PACE Award.

The award is Magna’s fourth PACE Award in the last six years. The space frame is the first composite application of its kind for an automotive liftgate and achieves a 10 per cent mass savings over a steel version.

“Innovative lightweight solutions, such as this composite space frame, are integral in helping automakers meet sustainability goals, including reduced emissions and improved fuel economy,” said Magna Exteriors president Grahame Burrow. “With ongoing requirements for design freedom in larger, lighter modules, we see strong growth for advanced plastics and composites to shape future mobility.”

The composite space frame is a tubular frame made of a foam core that is then wound with continuous glass fiber and infused with a polyurethane thermoset resin. Magna is investigating additional opportunities for this technology, such as side door modules, and other material innovations to help automakers meet their mass reduction and design goals. The space frame liftgate reinforcement solution was developed at Magna’s exteriors facility in Liberec, Czech Republic. Magna’s exteriors group produces the Toyota Supra liftgate module, including the space frame reinforcement, and delivers it to Magna’s complete vehicle manufacturing group in Graz, Austria, where the entire vehicle is assembled.


IHS Markit estimates 62 per cent of the world’s vehicles have liftgates with a small percentage currently being made of plastic. “This is one of the fastest growing products in Magna, and we expect this to continue as automakers seek more innovative lightweight solutions,” added Burrow.

The Automotive News PACE Awards, in their 26th year, are given to suppliers for game-changing product and process innovations that have succeeded in reaching the market. Winners were determined by an independent panel of judges and announced through a virtual celebration due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.


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