One standout among a group of a half-dozen specially equipped cars is a BMW 218i outfitted with Magna's e2 Technology Demonstrator. The car comes equipped with a hybrid all-wheel-drive system with a gasoline engine and hybrid transmission, but with the e2 system, it can demonstrate 10 combinations of electric drive.
"It's a Milky Way approach," says Carsten Bünder, director of global product management for Magna Powertrain, meaning its versatile enough to span a galaxy of vehicles. "With this, we can simulate anything from an entry-level budget technology up to the top architecture."
The skinny on the e2: It contains a hybrid dual-clutch gearbox and an electric rear axle with torque vectoring that can be enabled across different power ranges.
In operation, integrated torque vectoring provides a remarkably stable ride while the vehicle circles the ice-laden skidpad at about 65 km/h (40 mph), then 80 km/h (50 mph). There's little to no understeer or oversteer. With the system turned off, a novice test-course driver — confession, yours truly — goes spinning like a pinwheel into the side of the track.
Similar results are found in an earlier prototype of similar technology, the e1, in a Tesla Model S. The torque vectoring allows a driver to remain firmly in control as we drive around the skidpad and another icy course filled with twists and turns.