He takes charge of Scania's electrification journey
31 MARCH 2021
Since the beginning of 2021, Magnus MackAldener is responsible for Electrification Development at Scania Research & Development. MackAldener, with experience from two major development projects of significant meaning for Scania, now takes on yet a third. He is facing the challenge of leading the team into a new future – the transition to electrified heavy vehicles. By 2030, 50 percent of Scania’s total vehicle sales are expected to be electrified. How will he do it? By giving others energy.
As a young boy, MackAldener discovered what has since been his strength throughout his career at Scania, namely his talent for leading others.
“Leadership somehow came naturally for me,” he says. “I believe in transparency and clarity, because it gives people security and freedom to be the best versions of themselves. I want to be a person who gives other people energy, so they have more energy when they leave the meeting than when they arrived.”
These character traits have been an asset throughout his career at Scania, dating back to 1997. For nearly two decades, he has held various management positions at R&D.
“I am driven by the fact that we succeed together, as a collective. I want to complete the assignment and achieve a result. The best way to accomplish that is to develop people, make them independent and able to make their own decisions. It is vital to me that they have their own drive, their own will and their own direction,” he says. “But of course I have an opinion on what the right direction is and where we are going. We have a challenging journey ahead.”
The task is to develop the first more optimised electrified truck with a modular product offering. And by 2025 make battery electric long haulage trucks. It is a transformation that is necessary, both for the company and for society.
“It really is the case of survival, both from an economic and environmental perspective. If we do this right, we will continue to be premium many years to come. If we do it wrong, our future is at risk. It's a tough game and I think it's exciting. It is an incredible challenge.”
Finding new ways
Overcoming obstacles is something MackAldener has great experience of. MackAldener grew up in the suburb Botkyrka south of Stockholm, Sweden. His parents were teachers, and his grandfather a principal, hence education was important. However, as a young boy he did not do well in school and found it hard to read. But his parents helped him overcome his difficulties, and in high school he began to see school as a competition, wanting to be the best at the tests. That was when things started to go well.
“I discovered that if I was disciplined I got the results, and not because I was a super-intelligent person, but because I worked hard. If I put in the energy, it went well. But if my parents had not been helping me with reading, perhaps I would have a different life path.”
A growing interest for technology
During that time, he only consumed factual texts. In 1981, he bought his first copy of the Swedish tech magazine Teknikens Värld and read every single word, ending up as a full-time subscriber for 15 years. There, he developed an increasing interest in technology and cars, and opted for Vehicle Engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).
One day in 1997 he saw an advertisement from Scania, looking for ten industrial doctoral students. Eager to explore his interests further, he applied. However, all but one was already taken, a research position in gear technology within transmission development. He luckily got the job and in 2001 he received his doctoral degree.
“I am so grateful that I got the opportunity and it was a great experience. At first I wanted to do something really big and make an impression, something significant. But pretty soon I realised that I have to narrow down the area of research, and learned to define clear goals to reach the result in given time.”
The Scania career begun within exhaust aftertreatment
Then his career path as a leader at Scania set off, with various managerial positions within R&D. He has worked with important technology development projects with great success, such as Euro 6. In 2013, MackAldener received the "Ferdinand Porsche" award for his development of the Euro 6 exhaust gas treatment system for Scania.
“It was very special because Scania had not been working with exhaust aftertreatment to a large extent. There were not many people who knew it well and there was no organisation for it. So I was on that journey for six years, from the very beginning until the launch. The solution we came up with became cheap, efficient and we were early. We beat the competition, not so much because of me, but because we had good engineers and hired chemists that we did not have before.”
2014 he continued to the department he once started at as an industrial doctoral student – transmission development. This time as a manager and the start of a new gearbox project that was launched 2020.
A new journey towards electrified heavy vehicles
“I have been involved in two major development projects from start to finish, that also are two big technology steps. And now I am on a new similar journey. I am honoured, humbled and thrilled to have received the assignment to be a part of the transition to electrified heavy vehicles.”
However, the electrification transformation of the future is complex and unpredictable.
“Of course it’s a huge responsibility. But I'm not alone in this. I have a great team, who I believe will be able to accomplish the task. Scania has done development journeys before, and I am confident we will succeed this time as well.”
Scania has created an electrification roadmap which takes a multi-faceted approach to electrified transport, including research into different kinds of bio-fuelled hybrid technologies and fully-electric vehicles.