USsupplier Dana hopes to reverse slow growth in Europe by focusing on its alliance with German supplier Getrag.
In Europe, Dana wants to win business outsourced by automakers - as it has done in the rest of the world. But Bill Carroll, president of Dana Automotive Systems Group, admits that progress is slow.
Dana's European sales fell 12.4 percent to E1.7 billion last year.
The Automotive Systems Group is Dana's largest business unit. It produces axles, driveshafts, transfer cases, structural components, brake and clutch systems, and light vehicle modules and assemblies.
Dana was ranked No. 9 among the global automotive suppliers by Automotive News Europe in 2001, but only No. 24 in Europe.
Major Dana operations in Europe include Spicer Axles and FTE, which produces brake and clutch actuation systems.
Carroll says European automakers don't outsource many systems in Dana's core business areas. He described prospects as 'flattish.'
But Carroll believes Dana can win new business through alliances with European companies such as Getrag, a major supplier of manual and semi-automatic transmissions.
With a 49 percent stake in Getrag North America and 30 percent of Getrag globally, Dana shares control with the founding Hagenmeyer family. But the structures of the two companies are very different.
Dana is a public company headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. It has a broad range of automotive businesses and had global sales of $10.3 billion (E11.7 billion) last year.
Getrag is a typical Mittelstand (medium-sized) transmission supplier. Headquartered near Stuttgart, it had sales of E800 million in 2000. Getrag is headed by family member Tobias Hagenmeyer.
But Carroll says that Getrag is managed as a global business, and that Dana and Getrag share a common culture.
Just before Dana acquired a stake in Getrag in November 2000, Getrag and Ford established a joint venture to build Ford's manual transmissions in Europe. Ford is Dana's largest customer and Carroll believes Dana's link with Getrag helped make the joint venture more successful.
Similarly, the Getrag tie-up helped Dana win contracts for front- and rear-axle designs for the BMW X5 and future X7, says Carroll. Getrag is the sole supplier of BMW manual transmissions.
Carroll would not say whether Dana plans to buy more of Getrag. But he cited Dana's partnership since the 1960s with the Senderos family, which owns 51 percent of Spicer de Mexico, one of the country's largest independent manufacturers of automotive parts.
Says Carroll: 'We have done these things before, and we will continue to do them.'