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Dana pivots to EV research even as legacy driveline business carries sales

Posted By: The Toledo Blade on March 12, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.


Dana Inc., a longtime maker of axles and drivelines for light to heavy-duty trucks, is investing aggressively for an electrified future.

The company’s three-building, advanced technical complex and headquarters in Maumee employs about 950 people, the vast majority of whom are involved in the development and testing of electric vehicle systems and the processes needed to manufacture those parts, said Brandon Wandell, Dana EV operations manager.

That’s a sea change from about six years ago when Dana engineers and technicians predominantly were engaged in developing new parts for diesel and gasoline-powered trucks, he said.

Since 2016, Dana has spent $500 million on more than a dozen acquisitions to expand its electric product offering and on EV research and development.

Dana is best known locally for making all the axles for the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator produced at Jeep’s Toledo Assembly Complex.

But today Dana makes everything to power an EV, except batteries, including electric motors, inverters, thermal management systems and e-axles specially designed to take power directly from the electric motors.

“Dana has gone on kind of a spree to enhance their electric side. They see the writing on the wall,” said Kim Hill, president of Ann Arbor-based HWA Analytics, a research and consulting firm.

Dana’s EV parts business in 2022 was about $600 million, or just 6 percent of a record $10.2 billion posted by the company last year. But those sales are the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come as auto and truck makers launch new electric vehicles.

Dana CEO Jim Kamsickas predicted in December that Dana’s EV parts sales would reach $3 billion by 2030 and there wouldn’t be a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle made today that won’t have an EV variant in the future.

One recent contract that has Dana on that path is with PACCAR, the maker of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks.

Dana is helping PACCAR quickly convert medium-duty commercial trucks to EV by filling the cavity where the diesel engine and transmission once sat with a full EV powertrain, Mr. Wandell said.

The kit consists of a cradle the size of the former engine loaded with an inverter and high-voltage junction box, he said.

The Dana-built electric motor then sits alongside the cradle to drive the vehicle from large battery packs fitted around the vehicle. Dana also is supplying the truck driveshafts and axles.

Engineers and technicians in Maumee are on the front lines of not only bringing those systems to customers, but ensuring that they can be manufactured in high volumes at Dana plants around the world, Mr. Wandell said.

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