Investing For Success While Dealing With Disruption

By Christophe Dominiak

Christophe Dominiak is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Dana Incorporated. In this role, he leads Dana’s core products, industrial, and manufacturing engineering strategy, including the execution of the company’s enterprise strategy in the areas of commercialisation of new technologies and acceleration of electrification and hybridisation. Before joining Dana in early 2016, he was deputy chief technology officer for Hutchinson, a global automotive and aerospace supplier in Paris. He has also held a variety of strategic positions, including senior director of electronics engineering and purchasing, managing director of electronic assess systems, and vice president of security systems at Valeo.

The automotive industry has navigated well over a century of vehicle evolution, persisting through industry changes like the assembly line, the invention of dual-clutch transmissions, and tightening fuel economy standards. Today, the industry is experiencing a transformational shift toward vehicle electrification. In China, it primarily began after the Government launched a series of policies and incentives in 2009 to promote the development and adoption of new-energy vehicles. The Government investment, paired with growing consumer demand for personal mobility, caused a market boom in the mid-to-late 2000s and led to market disruption. These events impacted automotive companies’ product portfolio, global demand, and shifts in vehicle segment markets.
This disruption in China continues to spread globally. By the end of 2018, electric vehicles made up seven percent of all new vehicle sales in China, with a compound growth rate of 118 percent since 2011. But these shifts in product and market demand provide automotive suppliers with new opportunities. Industry disruption can spark new growth for suppliers who understand and prepare for these changes to stay competitive.
At Dana, we have refined our strategy in response to the accelerated pace of change. This strategy provides us a blueprint to develop innovative products that lead electric propulsion, expand our global footprint, and meet our customers where they do business.

Evolving Product Portfolio

Remaining competitive, as electrification evolves, requires a product portfolio able to address the diverse powertrain requirements of customers as they keep up with varying regional infrastructures and changing requirements. To provide such solutions while remaining flexible, suppliers are driven to seek out joint ventures, make acquisitions, and drive innovation through research and development. At Dana, we have a balanced portfolio across the light vehicle, commercial vehicle, and off-highway segments. This enables us to be competitive by sharing expertise across the enterprise, developing strategic partnerships across product offerings, and establishing a complete portfolio of electro-dynamic solutions that supports hybrid and fully electric vehicles.
Our investment strategy takes into consideration our current product portfolio and identifies areas where we can bring capabilities in-house. We are utilising our power conveyance, thermal management, and mechatronics competencies across all mobility segments, which provide a sustainable competitive advantage in the way we operate our business.
Over the past year, we have made strategic acquisitions, such as a majority interest in TM4, the addition of the SME group, and the integration of Ashwoods Electric Motors and Vocis. We have also created strategic alliances with companies such as Hyliion, Nordresa, and Motiv that enable us to provide complete, fully integrated electrified systems. These types of activities have expanded our product offerings in support of vehicle electrification. Currently, we are the only supplier with complete in-house design, engineering, and manufacturing capabilities for gearboxes, motors, inverters, controls, and thermal management.
This diversified product mix, available and applicable to all three of Dana’s end markets, is a core principle of our enterprise strategy. Through inorganic and organic growth, Dana has become a true energy-source agnostic supplier, offering complete propulsion systems for today, as well as e-propulsion innovations that will support vehicles of the future. With these strategic investments, combined with our existing in-house expertise, we have filled our global product portfolio to meet the industry’s needs.

Expanding Global Footprint

As the automotive industry embraces electrification, investment opportunities will vary across regions as local Governments encourage investments in developing new technologies. Most significantly, the industry is seeing these opportunities in the Asia-Pacific market, where changing regulations and subsidies are accelerating adoption. To capitalise on this, vehicle manufacturers and suppliers alike are investing in these markets and establishing a strong supply chain.
Understanding the need for a strong global network, Dana has continued to expand operations. Last year we opened additional facilities in Asia and in Europe to broaden our electrification and manufacturing presence. Through acquisitions, we have also added more than a dozen facilities in key regions across the globe that are serving each of our end markets, bringing our combined global presence to 145 facilities in 33 countries. These investments strategically place us near customers and establish collaborative relationships, which is especially important in this era of e-mobility, where the markets are forcing the industry to rewrite ground rules for technology development and systems integration.

Leading Electric Propulsion

Globally, electrification has long-term growth prospects for the mobility industry, but it is occurring at different rates across regional markets and product segments. The adoption rates can be influenced by regional regulation, total cost of ownership for end consumers, and R&D investment. A resilient investment strategy is needed to adapt to fluctuating adoption rates. As a result, suppliers are preparing to take advantage of new opportunities that make long-term financial sense. The industry must provide technologies that balance the immediate need for fuel efficiency in traditional product lines, while simultaneously offering solutions that will meet the requirements of hybrid and electric vehicles.
At Dana, the accelerated global growth of electrification technology has influenced our enterprise strategy. We are taking a long-term approach to these market drivers and making investments to capitalise on growth across all markets and product segments. As each product segment has a different adoption rate, we see an opportunity to meet customers where they are -both geographically and technologically-and thanks to a portfolio that is designed to be energy source agnostic and manufacturing capabilities that are capitalising on the latest innovation, we have the expertise to do just that.
As analysts predict growing demand for electrified solutions during 2020-2023, the automotive industry can capitalise on new technology while mitigating risk with a strong investment strategy. This will guide suppliers to stay competitive through technology advancements, emerging regional markets, and varying global adoption rates. Dana’s enterprise strategy has positioned the company for growth by diversifying risk across product segments and deploying resources close to our customers. Opportunities for growth are available when companies are prepared with a strong product portfolio and global presence to turn disruption into triumph.

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