Dana, a global leader in drivetrain and e-propulsion systems, is strengthening its global electrification capabilities through production of e-drive technologies in Pune, one of India’s leading automotive hubs and home to a number of leading OEMs including Bajaj Auto, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra.
In September 2020, Dana announced that it will be setting up the 4,600 square-metre facility that will produce Dana TM4 low- to high-voltage electric motors, inverters, and vehicle control units. Dana TM4 is a joint venture between Dana Incorporated and Hydro-Québec, Canada's largest electricity producer and one of the world's largest hydroelectric power producers. The new facility will be Dana's 18th in India, and its operations will include manufacturing, assembly, technical, and administrative functions.
The facility will supply technologies to OEMs for a variety of electrified vehicle applications, including buses and trucks. With the addition of electric motors, inverters, and vehicle control units to Dana's current capabilities in India, the company is poised to serve as a preferred supplier with in-house capabilities to deliver complete and fully integrated e-Propulsion systems to OEM customers across all mobility markets.
With the government of India and a number of States bullish on e-mobility, Dana is looking to expand its footprint in this segment. With the new plant, the company, which has a complete portfolio of e-Powertrain technologies, will expand its growing network of manufacturing sites for electrified products enabling it to provide critical innovations to its customers worldwide. In a statement issued in September, Gajanan Gandhe, vice-president and country leader for Dana in India, said: “By expanding Dana's manufacturing expertise for motors and inverters in India, we will be able to support the acceleration of the adoption of EVs in key growth areas, such as the Asia-Pacific region, while promoting India's position in mobile electrification technologies."
Demand picks up in India
Despite the pandemic which has laid most global markets low, Dana is seeing growth in India. The US-based company, which operates 150 facilities across 34 countries, had to suspend operations at many facilities in mid-March and through the second quarter of 2020. However, since then, there has been rapid recovery in the light-vehicle market especially in North America and China. For its commercial-vehicle business in North America, they have seen Class 8 and medium-duty demand improving, albeit weaker in Brazil and India.
Meanwhile, in the off-highway market, it is seeing signs of improvement, especially with agriculture and construction. In India, two-wheelers, small commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles have shown signs of recovery, and Dana has seen strong aftermarket sales demand due to train transportation being suspended during the pandemic period which increased the reliance on commercial vehicles.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, Saket Sapra, managing director, Dana India and Dana TM4, says: “We remain focused on delivering to our customers based on the increasing demand and are committed to investing in electrification over the long term. The Indian off-highway segment appears to be rebounding with expected improvements in construction and agriculture. Dana has 18 facilities in India that are prepared to meet the demands of the Indian market and we are in continuous discussions with our suppliers to ensure the supply chain is prepared. The medium and heavy commercial market is also steadily picking up and we are seeing a month-on-month increase in demand after June 2020.”
He adds, “We have seen strong sequential increases in our business in the last quarter. The market in India remains softer overall, but we are seeing gradual increases in demand. As a result of the dramatic improvement in our end markets during the third quarter, Dana reinstated its full-year financial guidance, which does not anticipate production stoppages in the fourth quarter due to pandemic containment measures. We expect full-year sales to be approximately $6.8 billion, at the midpoint of our range and are hopeful to see continued strengthening into 2021.”
Dana India R&D stays strong during pandemic
Even during the pandemic-driven lockdown, Dana India’s engineering (R&D) operated remotely by smart working from home, continuing support to numerous programs that were at varying stages of development.
Dana’s technical centre in Pune has 250 engineers working across all three major end markets, including light vehicles, commercial vehicles and off-highway. The team supports its global technical centres with their programs and is instrumental in leading the engineering activities in the regional market.
“We are working on several programs that impact the Indian market and are focused on improving product efficiency and more importantly total cost of ownership, electrification, and technology transfers, to name a few. The Pune Technology Centre works closely with our global technical centres distributed across nine countries and is directly involved in several global programs. We recently worked on axle products for mining programs with global OEMs,” he mentions.
Recently Dana introduced new drive tech for material-handling vehicles, including a low-voltage, high-efficiency motor for electric-powered applications, as well as a new series of modular, high-efficiency drive axles for Class I, IV, and V industrial lift trucks. These innovations will help its customers navigate the challenges of Industry 4.0, human-to-machine communication, autonomous vehicle operation, Big Data and end-to-end digitisation.
“Our customers continue to see the value of working with Dana as we provide the complete package of electrification technologies including the motor, inverter, gearbox, controls, and thermal management across our end markets. Material handling remains a critical business for Dana, as many places, such as ports, are looking to move toward zero emissions equipment. This quarter, we announced that we will be supplying an all-new electric wheel drive system, launching in 2021 that is suited for the large port container material handlers,” says Sapra.
In August 2020, Dana inked a global collaboration with Valeo to develop and supply 48-volt EV systems for new-mobility applications, including low-speed electric and hybrid e-AWD vehicles.
The systems will be equipped with a Dana-designed Spicer electrified e-Gearbox, and a Valeo-developed electric motor and inverter. The systems provide all the components required to electrify light (three- and four-wheeled) urban vehicles and hybridise vehicles weighing up to 2.5 tons. They comprise an electric motor and an inverter — which acts as the ‘brain’ of the electric vehicle by enabling it to generate voltage and alternating currents from a power source of a different voltage or frequency.
“Globally, electrification has long-term growth prospects for the mobility industry but is occurring at different rates across regional markets and product segments. These adoption rates can be influenced by regional regulation, the total cost of ownership for end consumers, infrastructure, and R&D investment. For India, the subsidies offered by the FAME I and FAME II policies and the ‘Make in India’ policy will help kick off the electrification industry by bringing the manufacturing of batteries, motors, inverters, power controllers, and other accessories into India. We strongly believe that electric vehicles have a large role to play in the Indian market and therefore we are making investments in India for electric vehicles,” concludes Sapra.
This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's January 1, 2021 issue.