OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. - Ford Motor Co. cannot afford any launch hiccups on the 2004 Ford F-150, and neither can Dana Corp.
The Ford F-150 pickup is critical for Dana. But the 2004 F series is just one of four major launches that the supplier is juggling as it tries to restore its once sterling financial profile.
Dana also is launching frame production for the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Toyota Tundra Double Cab and Land Rover Discovery.
"The turnaround is near completion," Dana CEO Joe Magliochetti said during a visit to Dana's test track in southern Michigan. "Our goal is to return (our credit rating) to investment grade. That is our goal for the year."
Magliochetti is paring noncore business. Last year Dana closed, consolidated or sold 28 plants, and it plans to close 10 more this year and one early in 2004. About 10,000 employees were affected, and another 2,500 have been notified.
Cash from the asset sales, along with working capital reductions, contributed to $600 million of net debt reduction last year for the Toledo, Ohio, supplier of axles, driveshafts, frames, engine cradles and engine components. Dana ranks No. 6 on the Automotive News list of top 150 original equipment suppliers to North America, with original equipment sales of $5.34 billion in 2002.
Obstacles remain. Dana's profits are well below peak levels. North American auto sales are expected to dip to 16.3 million vehicles this year. The supplier still is working off the effects of acquisitions during the late 1990s that included the $3.9 billion purchase of Echlin Inc.