It seemed logical to expect Dana Corp. would be the favored supplier to handle the rolling chassis for the new Jeep plant Chrysler Group has announced it will build in Toledo, OH, beginning this fall.

Dana, like the Jeep plant, also is based in Toledo, has a long history of supplying Jeep with axles and driveline components and pioneered the rolling-chassis concept in 1998 for Chrysler’s shortlived Dodge Dakota pickup program in Brazil.

Dana’s frame and axle expertise allowed the supplier to control assembly of the rolling undercarriage, integrating parts from nearby suppliers for the Brazilian Dakota. But sales were sluggish, and the truck program was canceled in 2000.

Dana CEO
Michael Burns

The supplier bid for the new rolling-chassis Jeep program, says Dana CEO Mike Burns, but lost the contract to Hyundai Mobis of South Korea. Hyundai Mobis will be onsite at the new Toledo Jeep plant in a separate chassis manufacturing building. (See related story: Hyundai Mobis Rolling Chassis Contract With Chrysler Sets Record)

“You win some, you lose some,” Burns tells Ward’s during a recent interview.

“It’s not as if we have a corner on the expertise,” he says. “In effect, I think you will find it’s more the accumulation of parts and putting them together.”

Burns says he understands Hyundai Mobis has logistics expertise that will be valuable in the program. He says he’s not sure if Dana will supply components for the new Toledo Jeep plant because many contracts have yet to be awarded. (See related story: Chassis Modules: Hyundai Mobis Specialty)

If the Toledo strategy is a success, Burns says additional rolling-chassis programs may arise in the future. “If we see more of it, are we (Dana) capable of doing it? Yes,” he says. “Might we have to beef up some of our logistics capability or find a partner who may have more expertise from a logistics standpoint? Possibly so.”

If there is bad blood between Dana and Chrysler because of the cancellation of the Dakota program in Brazil, it doesn’t show. Suppliers bid on and lose contracts all the time, Burns says, and it’s just a coincidence that the new Toledo plant is in Dana’s backyard.

“If you’re (a supplier) in Detroit, there’d be something (a contract) in your backyard you’d lose every day,” Burns says. “If there are four to five people bidding on a project, somebody’s going to lose. You don’t win everything.”