Dana Incorporated is one of the world’s top 40 automotive suppliers and boasts an illustrious heritage. Headquartered in Maumee, Ohio, USA, the company’s products have helped drive some of history’s greatest vehicles including the iconic Model T Ford.
With a firm focus on the future, Dana decided took take action to secure its position in the global supply chain for electric vehicle manufacturing. This meant ramping up the company’s output of cutting-edge technologies for e-mobility with a portfolio that today ranges from electric motors and drivelines to electrodynamic components and systems.
To keep pace with change in the European market, Dana initiated the process of evaluating locations for a new state-of-the-art electrodynamics facility. The decision that was finally reached was to invest in Åmål – a municipality in Sweden’s automotive cluster with 13,000 inhabitants – which emerged as the winner. This was deemed the ideal location for Dana’s new European plant involving an investment of USD 50 million.The assistance we received from Business Sweden and its partner agencies was instrumental and helped to clinch the deal. The agile response and forward-thinking attitude of the advisers meant that all the data we required at each stage of decision-making was available beforehand.
Springboard for automation and sustainability
Since 2000, Dana has owned and operated a conventional driveline plant in Åmål employing some 170 skilled workers. The decision to expand the site further was by no means a foregone conclusion says Robert Boffey, Plant Manager at Dana Inc. in Sweden.
“Dana’s strategy of expanding its capacity to manufacture e-propulsion systems has previously focused on India and China. We are now committing to a new facility in Sweden which will allow us to take automation and sustainability to a whole new level,” he explains.
Having worked at SAAB Automobile and Fiat-GM Powertrain previously in his career, Robert Boffey knew that Sweden’s automation expertise, reputation for high quality automotive engineering and, not least, clean energy supply and sustainability know-how, could bring unique value to Dana’s next strategic move.
But he needed help to get key decision-makers in Dana’s management team on board.
“This investment process has changed views within our company on the definition of low-cost versus high-cost countries. Thanks to the advanced automation level we can achieve in Sweden, labour costs will account for less than 2.5 per cent of the total manufacturing cost for our electric motors,” says Robert Boffey.
The case for Sweden: agile decision support
Being a global and publicly traded company in the mobility market, Dana’s management needed to carefully scrutinise the details of the proposal to expand in Sweden while evaluating other localisation options, too.
To put together the business case, Robert Boffey turned to the regional development organisation Position Väst and Business Sweden who proceeded to pool resources from more than ten of Sweden’s regional and national development agencies and government bodies.
Business Sweden and Position Väst took a coordinating role and led collaborative efforts to provide Dana with market insights, statistics, cost calculations, facts and practical assistance. These efforts encompassed everything from environmental permitting and labour costs to regional mapping of suppliers and options for securing the future skills supply.
This engaged support allowed Dana’s team to make a timely and well-informed decision says Robert Boffey.
“The assistance we received from Business Sweden and its partner agencies was instrumental and helped to clinch the deal. The agile response and forward-thinking attitude of the advisers meant that all the data we required at each stage of decision-making was available beforehand.”
The official support group included experts from Business Sweden, Position Väst Investment Office, Åmål Municipality, the Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, Region Västra Götaland and Fyrbodal Association of Local Authorities.
“Another unique aspect was Business Sweden’s ability to quickly set up a high-level meeting between the Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation and Dana’s President of Power Technologies and Global Electrification, Antonio Valencia,” Boffey adds.
A close speaking partner
In line with the strategic direction of the EU’s Recovery Fund, Dana was able to successfully apply for partial financing for its investment from the Swedish Energy Agency.
In addition, Dana received an investment grant from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, through is development initiative Industriklivet, totalling EUR 9 million.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and the Suez Canal disruption of 2021 really hit home the risks associated with locating all manufacturing capacity in India and China. But what’s more, by investing in Sweden Dana could prove its commitment to electrification and green mobility in a location where we can also co-innovate with premium automotive OEMs.”
When the decision was taken to build the new plant, Dana’s entire team was firmly convinced that Sweden has all the right competences and conditions needed for sustainable and advanced manufacturing of the company’s technologies.
Robert Boffey concludes:
“Business Sweden was an invaluable speaking partner throughout the decision-making journey. Together with all the regional and national agencies, as well as Sweden’s unions, we could rally around a common goal, work through all the details methodically and achieve a result that everyone at Dana can feel truly proud of.”
About Dana Incorporated
Dana is a leader in the design and manufacture of highly efficient propulsion and energy-management solutions that power vehicles and machines in all mobility markets across the globe. The company is shaping sustainable progress through its conventional and clean-energy solutions that support nearly every vehicle manufacturer with drive and motion systems; electrodynamic technologies, including software and controls; and thermal, sealing, and digital solutions.
Based in Maumee, Ohio, USA, the company reported sales of $7.1 billion in 2020 with 38,000 associates in 33 countries across six continents. Founded in 1904, Dana was named one of “America’s Most Responsible Companies 2021” by Newsweek for its emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility.