When Magna’s Axsus brand, a new solardivision, was created in 2017, it built on a 10-year company history in renewable energyand a longstanding Magna reputation forsustainability.
“For society, sustainability is an importantpart of doing business,” said Robert Souliere,Axsus director of energy and infrastructure.“But it’s also an important thing for ourcustomers. People want to buy products thatcome from a sustainable company. That’swhy they are turning to Magna.”
When Magna started its first solar project in2007, the idea wasn’t to come up with afuturistic car powered by the energy of thesun.
Instead, the company has harnessed itsexpertise in making body and chassiscomponents to build the massive metalstructures designed to hold solar panels onsolar farms. Today, Axsus supplies two typesof solar-panel structures, ones that are fixedand another type that moves to better catchthe rays of the sun.
The division, which is part of the MagnaMechatronics group, has a unique ability tobring together renewable energy with thebest automotive practices.
“Our customers gravitate toward ourproduct because we bring a lot of extrabenefits, such as proficiencies in logistics, anestablished supply chain, and standardizedwork flow,” Souliere said. “We use our world-class manufacturing and bring people tothese solar sites to organize manpower. It’slike building a car, but with an outdoorassembly line.”
He added: “Right away, our customersrecognize the benefits. People say, ‘Wow!Magna is bringing these great ideas to anemerging tech sector.’”
A manufacturing engineer with a specialty inprogramming robots, Souliere grew up inSault Ste. Marie, Ontario and earned abachelor’s degree from Lake Superior StateUniversity in Michigan. He describes solar as“a passion that enables you to be workingand doing something good for theenvironment.”
He said his current job is a perfect fitbecause he is “100 percent focused onrenewables” – the energy collected fromresources that do not deplete or can bereplenished, such as sunlight.
The 25-member Axsus division isheadquartered in Bradford, Ontario, Canada,and has locations in the U.S. and China Thedivision is helping Magna explore differentways to be sustainable, including installingsolar panels at some Magna facilities toproduce power, and helping OEM customerswith solar installations at new factories.
“Our team loves the entrepreneurial aspectof business,” Souliere said. “They also knowMagna has the horsepower to do amazingthings in a short period of time.”
Robert Souliere, Axsus director ofenergy and infrastructure