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In 2017, Magna sponsored engineering students participating in an EV racing event (Photo: Magna)

Magna International will develop a next-generation smart electric vehicle architecture together with China's Beijing Automotive Industry Holding (BAIC).

The Canadian automotive supplier said the architecture will specifically be for the Chinese market, where 700,000 electrified vehicles were sold in 2017.

The agreement calls for Magna Steyr, Magna's Austrian engineering subsidiary, to take a lead role in developing the platform.

Magna has been actively pursuing a greater presence in China in recent years. In October, it announced a joint-venture agreement with SAIC Motor subsidiary Huayu Automotive Systems to manufacture an electric-drive powertrain system for an unidentified German automaker.

The supplier group also provides content to the ES8 electric SUV unveiled by Chinese EV start-up Nio late last year. Magna is responsible for the vehicle's aluminum front sub-frame and rear cradle, the gearboxes for both e-drive systems and the latching system for the side doors and hood.

As the leading EV market in the world, with continued strong growth prospects, China's appeal to automakers and suppliers alike is clear.

"China is the number-one growth market in the world," Magna CEO Don Walker said in October. "They have been clear about their intended leadership in bringing hybrid and electric vehicles to market."

-By Arjen Bongard