When Magna’s Axsus brand, a new solar division, was created in 2017, it built on a 10- year company history in renewable energy and a longstanding Magna reputation for sustainability.

“For society, sustainability is an important part of doing business,” said Robert Souliere, Axsus director of energy and infrastructure. “But it’s also an important thing for our customers. People want to buy products that come from a sustainable company. That’s why they are turning to Magna.”

When Magna started its first solar project in 2007, the idea wasn’t to come up with a futuristic car powered by the energy of the sun.

Instead, the company has harnessed its expertise in making body and chassis components to build the massive metal structures designed to hold solar panels on solar farms. Today, Axsus supplies two types of solar-panel structures, ones that are fixed and another type that moves to better catch the rays of the sun.

The division, which is part of the Magna Mechatronics group, has a unique ability to bring together renewable energy with the best automotive practices.

“Our customers gravitate toward our product because we bring a lot of extra benefits, such as proficiencies in logistics, an established supply chain, and standardized work flow,” Souliere said. “We use our world- class manufacturing and bring people to these solar sites to organize manpower. It’s like building a car, but with an outdoor assembly line.”

He added: “Right away, our customers recognize the benefits. People say, ‘Wow! Magna is bringing these great ideas to an emerging tech sector.’”

A manufacturing engineer with a specialty in programming robots, Souliere grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and earned a bachelor’s degree from Lake Superior State University in Michigan. He describes solar as “a passion that enables you to be working and doing something good for the environment.”

He said his current job is a perfect fit because he is “100 percent focused on renewables” – the energy collected from resources that do not deplete or can be replenished, such as sunlight.

The 25-member Axsus division is headquartered in Bradford, Ontario, Canada, and has locations in the U.S. and China The division is helping Magna explore different ways to be sustainable, including installing solar panels at some Magna facilities to produce power, and helping OEM customers with solar installations at new factories.

“Our team loves the entrepreneurial aspect of business,” Souliere said. “They also know Magna has the horsepower to do amazing things in a short period of time.”

Robert Souliere, Axsus director of energy and infrastructure

Solar Energy:

Did You Know?

Solar energy systems:

-Harness energy from the sun

-Do not produce air pollutants or carbon dioxide

-Have minimal effects on the environment

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration